mikejuk writes "The UK Government is trying to figure out how to teach children to code by changing what is taught in schools. The Telegraph, a leading UK newspaper, has put the other side of the case: Coding is for 'exceptionally dull weirdo(s).' The recent blog post by Willard Foxton is an amazing insight into the world of the non-programming mind. He goes on to say: 'Coding is a niche, mechanical skill, a bit like plumbing or car repair.' So coding is a mechanical skill — I guess he must be thinking of copy typing. 'As a subject, it only appeals to a limited set of people — the aforementioned dull weirdos. There's a reason most startup co-founders are "the charming ideas guy" paired with "the tech genius". It's because if you leave the tech genius on his own he'll start muttering to himself.' Why is it I feel a bout of muttering coming on? 'If a school subject is to be taught to everyone, it needs to have a vital application in everyday life — and that's just not true of coding.' Of course it all depends on what you mean by 'vital application.' The article is reactionary and designed to get people annoyed and posting comments — just over 600 at the moment — but what is worrying is that the viewpoint will ring true with anyone dumb enough not to be able to see the bigger picture. The same attitude extends to all STEM subjects. The next step in the argument is — why teach physics, chemistry, biology, and math (as distinct from arithmetic) to anyone but exceptionally dumb weirdos."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
Daniel_Stuckey writes "Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner will introduce an anti-NSA bill tomorrow in the House, and if it makes its winding way to becoming law, it will be a big step towards curtailing the NSA's bulk metadata collection. Wisconsin Rep. Sensenbrenner, along with 60 co-sponsors, aims to amend one section of the Patriot Act, Section 215, in a bill known as the United and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet Collection, and Online Monitoring Act — also known by its less-clunky acronym version, the USA Freedom Act."
An anonymous reader writes "Doug Belshaw and Carla Casilli, along with a community of stakeholders, have been working on a specification of skills needed for web literacy. Doug report that Brett Gaylor and Chris Lawrence announced version 1.0 of the spec. In a nutshell it's described as 'A map of the territory for the skills and competencies Mozilla and community think are important to get better at to more effectively read, write & participate on the Web.' Usages include writing curricula influenced by it, and issuing Open Badges that align with it (using the 'alignment' metadata field). Doug also calls for help with localization of the spec into other languages."
sfcrazy writes "Austria's Big Brother Awards awarded the coveted Big Brother Award to Ubuntu's founder Mark Shuttleworth for Ubuntu Dash's privacy reducing online extensions to local searches." From the article: "What’s bad here and raises question here is that despite repeated requests Canonical refused to make the tracking option opt-in. The feature is installed and enabled by default so the moment one install Ubuntu it starts sending info to Canonical servers until the user deliberately disables it."
Lucas123 writes "HP has filed a lawsuit against seven makers of optical disk drive technology, claiming the companies engaged in widespread price fixing in order to drive up the cost of Blu-ray, DVD and CD drives for PC and peripheral equipment makers. The suit was filed Thursday at the district court in Houston against Toshiba, Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, NEC, TEAC and Quanta Storage. The lawsuit claims the conspiracy to drive up prices took place from at least Jan. 1, 2004 through Jan. 1, 2010, when "almost all forms of home entertainment and data storage were on optical discs" and the companies controlled 90% of the optical disk market. HP alleges the companies used industry events, such as CES, as cover to communicate competitive information and hammer out anticompetitive agreements."
mrspoonsi writes "The BBC reports "Home broadband in the US costs far more than elsewhere. At high speeds, it costs nearly three times as much as in the UK and France, and more than five times as much as in South Korea. Why?...'Americans pay so much because they don't have a choice,' says Susan Crawford, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama on science, technology and innovation policy. We deregulated high-speed internet access 10 years ago and since then we've seen enormous consolidation and monopolies, so left to their own devices, companies that supply internet access will charge high prices, because they face neither competition nor oversight."
astroengine writes "A deadly bed of icy javelins — known as penitentes — could be awaiting any spacecraft that tries to land on some parts of the ice-covered world Europa, say researchers who have carefully modeled the ice processes at work on parts of the Jovian moon to detect features beyond the current low resolution images. If the prediction of long vertical blades of ice is correct, it will not only help engineers design a lander to tame or avoid the sabers, but also help explain a couple of nagging mysteries about the strange moon. 'This is a game changer,' said planetary scientist Don Blankenship of the University of Texas in Austin. Blankenship has been involved in NASA's planning process for sending a reconnaissance spacecraft and eventually a lander to Europa."
An anonymous reader writes "Mozilla today launched an experimental pilot project called Mozilla Location Service. The organization explains its goal is to provide geolocation lookups based on publicly observable cell tower and WiFi access point information. Mozilla admits that many commercial services already exist in this space, but it wants to provide a public one. The company points out there isn't a single 'large' public service that provides this data, which is becoming increasingly important when building various parts of the mobile ecosystem."
MojoKid writes "NVIDIA announced a major update to its SHIELD Android gaming device today, with the over-the-air update delivering the latest build of Android (v4.3 Jelly Bean) to the handheld console. NVIDIA also launched GameStream in order to bring more PC titles to streaming devices. Wait, need more? How about SHIELD Gamepad Mapper, which turns touch-based Android games into ones that can be enjoyed with SHIELD's console-quality controls. Alongside that Android update comes Console Mode, which turns SHIELD into a portable living room game console. Users will be able to pair up a Bluetooth controller, kick back on the couch, indulge in Android games, browse the Web, and watch your favorite movies all at 1080p."
ptorrone writes "CNBC has an interesting article about the growing trend of hardware companies going open-source. 'The open-source hardware movement is migrating from the garage to the marketplace. Companies that follow an open-source philosophy make their physical designs and software code available to the public. By doing so, these companies engage a wave of makers, hobbyists and designers who don't just want to buy products, but have a hand in developing them.'"
First time accepted submitter Sara Konrath writes "The App Generation gives an overview of how digital media and technology may affect young people's perceptions of themselves, their ability to relate to others, and their creativity. As the director of the Interdisciplinary Program on Empathy and Altruism Research (iPEAR), my research finds that there have been generational changes in personality traits related to social functioning. For example, we find that narcissism has been rising while dispositional empathy has been declining in recent generations. I also study the relationship between such traits and the use of social media. Considering this, I was excited to get a copy of the book ahead of its release date." Keep reading for the rest of Sara's review.
An anonymous reader writes "A class action lawsuit against Apple, Google and a number of other high-profile tech companies has been given the green light by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh. The lawsuit stems from anti-poaching agreements that Apple a number of tech companies entered into from 2005 through 2009. Parties to the agreement all promised not to recruit employees from one another. The companies involved include Apple, Intel, Google, Intuit, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Adobe."
An anonymous reader writes "Debian has been one of the last holdouts using SysVinit over a modern init system, but now after much discussion amongst Debian developers, they are deciding whether to support systemd or Upstart as their default init system. The Debian technical committee has been asked to vote on which init system to use, which could swing in favor of using Upstart due to the Canonical bias present on the committee."
drxenos writes "A LaserDisc purchased on eBay was found to contain raw footage from Star Wars VI: Return of the Jedi. From the article: 'The origin of the LaserDisc isn't entirely clear, but it was purchased for $699 off eBay, apparently once used to demonstrate Lucasfilm's EditDroid station — one of the first digital film editing systems sold nearly 30 years ago. Ironically, George Lucas himself never used EditDroid to make a movie; the Star Wars clips were loaded simply to show off its capabilities to prospective buyers.'"
mdsolar writes in about an ongoing scandal in South Korea that has rocked their nuclear power program. "It started with a few bogus safety certificates for cables shutting a handful of South Korean nuclear reactors. Now, the scandal has snowballed, with 100 people indicted and Seoul under pressure to rethink its reliance on nuclear power. A shift away from nuclear, which generates a third of South Korea's electricity, could cost tens of billions of dollars a year by boosting imports of liquefied natural gas, oil or coal. Although helping calm safety concerns, it would also push the government into a politically sensitive debate over whether state utilities could pass on sharply higher power bills to households and companies. Gas, which makes up half of South Korea's energy bill while accounting for only a fifth of its power, would likely be the main substitute for nuclear, as it is considered cleaner than coal and plants can be built more easily near cities."
An anonymous reader writes "Oracle is exploring silicon photonics, an optical technology drawing widespread interest, as a potential weapon in the battle against data-center power consumption. Advances in CPU and memory design could boost efficiency dramatically over the next few years. When they do, the interconnects among components, servers and switches will effectively become the power hogs of the data center, according to Ashok Krishnamoorthy, architect and chief technologist in photonics at Oracle. Oracle isn't often associated with networking and may not even manufacture or sell the technologies it's now studying. But as a big player in computing and storage, it could benefit from fostering a future technology that helps make faster, more efficient data centers possible."
sciencehabit writes "A software company called Vicarious claims to have created a computer algorithm that can solve CAPTCHA with greater than 90% accuracy. If true, the advance would represent a major breakthrough in artificial intelligence. It would also mean that the internet will have to start looking for a new security system. The problem, however, is that Vicarious has provided little evidence for its claims, though some well-known scientists are behind the work."
Jason Calacanis gained notoriety first through Silicon Alley Reporter and later for being a co-founder of Weblogs, Inc. He's now an angel investor and has a company called, LAUNCH, which holds conferences and technology related events. The upcoming Launch Hackathon will be the largest in the world with over 1,000 developers already signed up and prizes of $800k invested in two of the top ten finalists. We had a chance to sit down with Jason to talk about what makes this hackathon so special and the future of angel investing. Read below to see what he had to say.
MarkWhittington writes "Glenn Reynolds, the purveyor of Instapundit, asked the pertinent question, 'If big government can put a man on the moon, why can't it put up a simple website without messing it up?' The answer, as it turns out, is a rather simple one. The Apollo program, that President John F. Kennedy mandated to put a man on the moon and return him to the Earth, was a simple idea well carried out for a number of reasons. The primary one was that Congress did not pass a 1,800 or so page bill backed up by a mind-numbing amount of regulations mandating how NASA would do it. The question of how to conduct the lunar voyages was left up to the engineers at NASA and the aerospace industry at the time. The government simply provided the resources necessary to do the job and a certain degree of oversight. Imagine if President Obama had stated, 'I believe the nation should commit itself to the goal of enabling all Americans to access affordable health insurance' but then left the how to do it to some of the best experts in health care and economics without partisan interference."
rtoz writes "It wasn't the US government breaking into the private communications of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, according to top secret documents unearthed by Edward Snowden and published in Le Monde – it was the Israelis. A four-page internal précis regarding a visit to Washington by two top French intelligence officials denies the NSA or any US intelligence agency was behind the May 2012 attempted break-in – which sought to implant a monitoring device inside the Elysee Palace's communications system – but instead fingers the Israelis, albeit indirectly. A few days back, Le Monde reported that the NSA Intercepted French Telephone Calls 'On a Massive Scale' ."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Michael Hiltzik writes in the LA Times that you'd think the one place you can depend on for verifiable facts is science but a few years ago, scientists at Amgen set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology and found only six could be proved valid. 'The thing that should scare people is that so many of these important published studies turn out to be wrong when they're investigated further,' says Michael Eisen who adds that the drive to land a paper in a top journal encourages researchers to hype their results, especially in the life sciences. Peer review, in which a paper is checked out by eminent scientists before publication, isn't a safeguard because the unpaid reviewers seldom have the time or inclination to examine a study enough to unearth errors or flaws. 'The journals want the papers that make the sexiest claims,' Eisen says. 'And scientists believe that the way you succeed is having splashy papers in Science or Nature — it's not bad for them if a paper turns out to be wrong, if it's gotten a lot of attention.' That's why the National Institutes of Health has launched a project to remake its researchers' approach to publication. Its new PubMed Commons system allows qualified scientists to post ongoing comments about published papers. The goal is to wean scientists from the idea that a cursory, one-time peer review is enough to validate a research study, and substitute a process of continuing scrutiny, so that poor research can be identified quickly and good research can be picked out of the crowd and find a wider audience. 'The demand for sexy results, combined with indifferent follow-up, means that billions of dollars in worldwide resources devoted to finding and developing remedies for the diseases that afflict us all is being thrown down a rathole,' says Hiltzik. 'NIH and the rest of the scientific community are just now waking up to the realization that science has lost its way, and it may take years to get back on the right path.'"
RocketAcademy writes "The test article for Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft suffered a landing accident on Saturday when the left main landing gear failed to deploy, causing the vehicle to flip over. NBC News quotes a Sierra Nevada engineer saying that the pilot would have walked away. Sierra Nevada Corporation is developing the Dream Chaser to support the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew and Cargo program. It is not yet known what effect the mishap will have on Dream Chaser development. A number of rocket vehicles have suffered landing-gear mishaps in the recent past. Several years ago, concerns over spacecraft gear design led to a call for NASA to fund a technology prize for robust, light-weight landing gear concepts."
An anonymous reader writes "A century ago on Monday, the predecessor to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County began a two-year project to uncover the Ice Age creatures that became trapped in the La Brea Tar Pits. 'Digs over the years have unearthed bones of mammoths, mastodons, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves and other unsuspecting Ice Age creatures that became trapped in ponds of sticky asphalt. But it's the smaller discoveries — plants, insects and rodents — in recent years that are shaping scientists' views of life in the region 11,000 to 50,000 years ago.'"
Kludge writes "In 2000 there were thousands of email/web hosting businesses. In 2013 not much has changed. To get my email/web/webmail/domain/VOIP/public-key/XMPP/VPN hosting I have to deal with five different service providers. Where are the complete hosting providers? The absence of competition in this area drives many to Google, making data siphoning easy for the NSA. Why has hosting not advanced in the last 10 years? Where are the hosting providers that make end-to-end encrypted email/web/VOIP/XMPP easy and automatic for all my clients?"