New adosch writes "The Landsat Data Continuity Mission is now in orbit, after launching Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Calif. After about three months of testing, the U.S. Geological Survey will take control and the mission, renamed Landsat 8, will extend more than 40 years of global land observations critical to energy and water management, forest monitoring, human and environmental health, urban planning, disaster recovery, and agriculture." We still need more new observation satellites to avoid losing Earth observing capabilities as the work horses of the NASA/USGS fleet die of old age.
Hesh writes "The space-pirates themed Project Holodeck game is a VR game that is initially targeted for the Oculus Rift and will marry VR with a world so interactive and immersive that it feels like you can reach out and touch it. Ben Lang over at RoadToVR recently got a chance to sit down with the team and try it out. He came out extremely impressed with how immersive the experience was: '...at one point I needed to set the Razer Hydra controllers down to adjust my helmet and I nearly tried to set them down on a virtual table next to me. There was no table in real life — had I not quickly realized what I was about to do, I would have dropped the controllers straight onto the floor below.'"
coondoggie writes "The US Department of Energy today said it would spend $20 million on the development of advanced cybersecurity tools to help protect the nation's vulnerable energy supply. The DOE technologies developed under this program should be interoperable, scalable, cost-effective advanced tools that do not impede critical energy delivery functions, that are innovative and can easily be commercialized or made available through open source for no cost."
Barence writes "Do you remember what you posted on that music forum in 2004? Or which services you tried for webmail before Gmail? We often forget online services, but they don't forget us. PC Pro has investigated whether it's possible to retrospectively wipe yourself from the internet. It discusses how difficult it is to get your data removed from Facebook, Google and other popular web services, as well as reputation management services that promise to bury unwanted internet content on your behalf."
First time accepted submitter Ben Rooney writes "Children in the Baltic state of Estonia will learn statistics based less on computation and doing math by hand and more on framing and interpreting problems, and thinking about validation and strategy. From the article: 'Jon McLoone is Content Director for computerbasedmath.org, a project to redefine school math education assuming the use of computers. The company announced a deal Monday with the Estonian Education ministry to trial a self-contained statistics program replacing the more traditional curriculum. “We are re-thinking computer education with the assumption that computers are the tools for computation,” said Mr. McLoone. “Schools are still focused on teaching hand calculating. Computation used to be the bottleneck. The hard part was solving the equations, so that was the skill you had to teach. These days that is the bit that computers can do. What computers can’t do is set up the problem, interpret the problem, think about validation and strategy. That is what we should be teaching and spending less time teaching children to be poor computers rather than good mathematicians.”'"
The Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) is a venerable and-well regarded volunteer-run, regional Linux conference that draws over 2000 attendees and an amazing array of speakers and open source projects displaying their goodies in the exposition area. The tutorial and speech schedule is crazy-dense, with as many as 10 tracks going at once. Conference Chair Ilan Rabinovitch admits that there is no way you can take in all of SCALE. On the other hand, you are certain to find something new and interesting to learn if you have any interest at all in Open Source. And yes, we mean Open Source, not just Linux. This show has grown far beyond its humble roots as a get-together for a few local students interested in Linux. One last thing: When you register, if you use the promo code SLASH, the $70 pass for all three days is magically reduced to $35. And there are many other ways to get that discount or another one just like it, including affiliation with virtually any Southern California Open Source group or almost any Open Source project. SCALE is 100% non-profit, and wants to "spread the word," not make money.
Ben Kamens spent over 5 years at Fog Creek, eventually working his way up to VP of engineering. However, after watching one of Salman Khan's talks he started to volunteer his time at Khan Academy, and is now the lead developer. In-between providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere, he's graciously agreed to answer some of your questions. As usual, ask as many questions as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco and current lieutenant governor of California, argues in his new book Citizenville that citizens need to take the lead in solving society's problems, sidestepping government bureaucracy with a variety of technological tools. It's more efficient for those engineers and concerned citizens to take open government data and use it to build apps that serve a civic function—such as Google Earth, or a map that displays crime statistics—than for government to try and provide these tools itself. But Newsom doesn't limit his attacks on government bureaucracy to politicians; he also reserves some fire for the IT departments, which he views as an outdated relic. 'The traditional IT department, which set up and maintained complex, centralized services—networks, servers, computers, e-mail, printers—may be on its way out,' he writes. 'As we move toward the cloud and technology gets easier to use, we'll have less need for full-time teams of people to maintain our stuff.' Despite his advocacy of the cloud and collaboration, he's also ambivalent about Wikileaks. 'It has made government and diplomacy much more challenging and ultimately less honest,' he writes at one point, 'as people fear that their private communications might become public.' Nonetheless, he thinks WikiLeaks and its ilk are ultimately here to stay: 'It is happening, and it's going to keep happening, and it's going to intensify.' In the end, he feels the benefits of collaboration and openness outweigh the drawbacks." Keep reading for the rest of Nick's review.
CowboyRobot writes "The January edition of Science, Technology & Human Values published an article titled Technological Change and Professional Control in the Professoriate, which details interviews with 42 faculty members at three research-intensive universities. The research concludes that faculty have little interest in the latest IT solutions. 'I went to [a course management software workshop] and came away with the idea that the greatest thing you could do with that is put your syllabus on the Web and that's an awful lot of technology to hand the students a piece of paper at the start of the semester and say keep track of it,' said one. 'What are the gains for students by bringing IT into the class? There isn't any. You could teach all of chemistry with a whiteboard. I really don't think you need IT or anything beyond a pencil and a paper,' said another."
astroengine writes "The SETI Institute has launched a new website called 'Pluto Rocks!' intended to gather a public vote on the names of Pluto's smallest, and most recently discovered, moons P4 and P5. Discovered in 2011 and 2012 by Hubble, the two dinky satellites have concerned scientists managing the NASA New Horizons probe that will flyby the Plutonian system in 2015 — the presence of small rocky bodies in Pluto orbit might mean there is a significant collision risk to the high velocity spacecraft. This sinister back story will surely influence the naming outcome of the two new moons, where all the suggestions on Pluto Rocks! are related to Greek and Roman mythological characters from the underworld (but you can also make your own suggestions). If you want to get involved, there's also a special SETI Institute G+ Hangout planned for 11 a.m. PT Monday where two of the P4/P5 discovery scientists will hold a Q&A session."
skade88 writes "Pepsi will release on Feb 28th a new breakfast Mountain Dew. The new drink called Kick Start is Mountain Dew mixed with fruit juice. It will come in two flavors, Citrus and Fruit Punch. 'Our consumers told us they are looking for an alternative to traditional morning beverages – one that tastes great, includes real fruit juice and has just the right amount of kick to help them start their days,' said Greg Lyons, Mountain Dew's vice president of marketing."
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Express reports that as a task force of 125 officers continue their search for Christopher Dorner in the rugged terrain around Big Bear, it was revealed that Dorner has become the first human target for remotely-controlled airborne drones on US soil. 'The thermal imaging cameras the drones use may be our only hope of finding him,' says a senior police source. 'On the ground, it's like looking for a needle in a haystack.' The use of drones was confirmed by Customs and Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio, who revealed agents have been prepared for Dorner to make a dash for the Mexican border since his rampage began. 'This agency has been at the forefront of domestic use of drones by law enforcement.' Dorner, who was fired from the LAPD in 2008 for lying about a fellow officer he accused of misconduct, has vowed to wreak revenge by 'killing officers and their families.' According to San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon: 'To be honest, he could be anywhere right now. Torching his own vehicle could have been a diversion to throw us off track. Anything is possible with this man.'"
Jon Brodkin writes "I’ve been a longtime fan of Brain Age. Mixed in among the standard-issue kill-everything-you-see/race/sports types of games that dominate gaming, Brain Age on the Nintendo DS always provided something unique, fun, and mentally stimulating. Doing math problems, counting syllables, recognizing patterns, and memorizing stuff was far more enjoyable than anyone would have expected in Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day, the game that kicked off the series seven years ago. Based on the research of neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima, the exercises are designed to improve brain function—or at least give players the illusion that they’re getting smarter. Nintendo developed several sequels and spinoffs for the DS after that first game, and now a Nintendo 3DS-exclusive entry is here with Brain Age: Concentration Training, released as a download and physical media this past weekend for $30. Some improvements in gameplay are readily apparent. Handwriting recognition is significantly better. You play the game by holding the 3DS upright, rather than sideways like a book, and it works so well I wonder why previous Brain Age games used the wacky book-like layout at all." Read below to see what Jon thinks of the 3DS-exclusive version.
connorblack writes "I want to be a web developer, and everyday I ask myself the same question: why am I wasting my time getting a computer science degree? I feel like I'm trapped- most of the courses I spend all my time on are far removed from the skills I need to succeed as a web developer. But on the other hand, I can't imagine another degree that would allow me to stay in a programming mindset. The fact is that web development has taken huge bounds in the last few years, and sadly most universities haven't caught up. Computer science is a field that overlaps with web development, but getting a computer science degree to become a web developer is like getting a zoology degree to become a veterinarian. Close, but no cigar. So here's the deal: I'm in my second year of a computer science degree, and the thought of wasting two more years, getting left in the dust, and becoming irrelevant has me horrified. I want to start my web development career now. Or at least as soon as possible. I can drop out and devote 6 months to teaching myself, but I want something more structured. Something that has the benefits of a classroom and an authority figure, but which teaches me exactly what I need to know to do what I want to do. Any suggestions?"