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Education

Learn-to-Code Program For 10,000 Low-Income Girls 473 473

theodp writes: In a press release Tuesday, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) announced it was teaming with Lifetime Partner Apple and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on its Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to engage 10,000 girls in learning computing concepts. "Currently, just 25 states and the District of Columbia allow computer science to count as a math or science graduation requirement," explained the press release. "Because boys get more informal opportunities for computing experience outside of school, this lack of formal computing education especially affects girls and many youth of color." HUD, the press release added, has joined the Commitment to Action to help extend the program's reach in partnership with public housing authorities nationwide and provide computing access to the 485,000 girls residing in public housing. "In this Information Age, opportunity is just a click on a keyboard away. HUD is proud to partner with NCWIT to provide talented girls with the skills and experiences they need to reach new heights and to achieve their dreams in the 21st century global economy," said HUD Secretary Julian Castro, who coincidentally is eyed as a potential running mate for Hillary Clinton, whose daughter Chelsea is the Clinton Foundation's point-person on computer science. Last year, Chelsea Clinton gave a keynote speech at the NCWIT Summit and appeared with now-U.S. CTO Megan Smith to help launch Google's $50 million girls-only Made With Code initiative.

Comment: The data (Score 5, Informative) 173 173

The data is a apparently a subset of 60 million records that the hackers are threatening to release.

I've had a look at the data, there are very many easily identifiable people, for some of those there is date-of-birth data, ZIP code, "preferences", details of any money spent etc. There are a few people using their .gov email addresses for this, some of those can be verified by the IP address, some other email addresses belonging to other corporations. I would suspect that those are the people who are most at risk of blackmail. Remember too that an email addresses can be used to look people up on Facebook, which would make it easier for blackmailers to find potential victims.

Not revealed in the breach (so far) are credit card data, real names (although many are obvious from the email addresses) or passwords. Although I notice that some people were smart enough to sign up with a throwaway email address, if they have actually paid for anything then they would have had to supply real contact details somewhere.

The background story appears to be that a pissed-off affiliate who claims they were owed hundreds of thousands of dollars had a contact hack the database. It seems the hackers are demanding money else they will release the rest of the data.

Open Source

When Enthusiasm For Free Software Turns Ugly 177 177

An anonymous reader writes: Bruce Byfield writes for Linux Magazine about the unfortunate side-effect of people being passionate about open source software: discussions about rival projects can get heated and turn ugly. "Why, for example, would I possibly to see OpenOffice humiliated? I prefer LibreOffice's releases, and — with some misgivings — the Free Software Foundation's philosophy and licensing over that of the Apache Foundation. I also question the efficiency of having two office suites so closely related to each other. Yet while exploring such issues may be news, I don't forget that, despite these differences, OpenOffice and the Apache Foundation still have the same general goals as LibreOffice or the Free Software Foundation. The same is true of other famous feuds. Why, because I have a personal preference for KDE, am I supposed to ignore GNOME's outstanding interface designs? Similarly, because I value Debian's stability and efforts at democracy, am I supposed to have a strong distaste for Ubuntu?"

Comment: Re:Talk about creating a demand (Score 3, Interesting) 334 334

There are other -- probably cheaper -- solutions for local storage than batteries. A couple of off-the-cuff examples: lifting a very large weight with your excess electricity, then running a generator with it during peak loads or periods. (Did I say VERY large weight?)

Batteries are heavy. Why not do both?

Comment: Higher, again (Score 2) 109 109

Higher than anticipated, again, because I still hadn't learned that my employer doesn't change the amount of tax they forward on even when they increase my salary. They wait for me to tell the tax office that my salary changed and for the tax office to tell them that my salary changed, even though they were the ones who changed it in the first place. Brilliant.

They also lose the documentation sent by the tax office at the start of each year and, in the absence of any better information, deduct SIXTY PERCENT. Every. Single. February. As well as the first month of my job, which is really handy when you've just moved to a foreign country and need to buy just about everything from scratch.

This year I got wise to it and told them to deduct extra. That way there's either a fat refund around Christmas or some margin when they cock it up yet again.

Comment: Good points, bad points (Score 4, Interesting) 287 287

I've driven a car with a manual speed limiter for 10+ years now. I don't understand why all cars don't have one. Entering a 30mph/50kmh zone? Set that as the maximum speed on the limiter and you can drive around normally without having to keep checking your speed. Less time checking your speed equals more time looking where you are going. This is only a good thing.

In Europe, speed limiters seem to be common in Mercedes and Smart cars, Renault, Citroen and Peugeot cars, plus some of the newer Vauxhall/Opel models and Fords. It is built into the cruise control system.

The bad points? Well, reading signs is a so-so thing when it comes to accuracy, and satellite navigation systems sometimes get the speed very badly wrong if they have incorrect data. And just because the speed limit *says* that you can drive at up to whatever-is-on-the-sign, it doesn't mean it is *safe* to do so in the road conditions you actually have.

Comment: Outside Context Problem (Score 5, Interesting) 576 576

It's the case of the "Outside Context Problem" as described by the late, great Iain M Banks [via]

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The usual example given to illustrate an Outside Context Problem was imagining you were a tribe on a largish, fertile island; you'd tamed the land, invented the wheel or writing or whatever, the neighbors were cooperative or enslaved but at any rate peaceful and you were busy raising temples to yourself with all the excess productive capacity you had, you were in a position of near-absolute power and control which your hallowed ancestors could hardly have dreamed of and the whole situation was just running along nicely like a canoe on wet grass... when suddenly this bristling lump of iron appears sailless and trailing steam in the bay and these guys carrying long funny-looking sticks come ashore and announce you've just been discovered, you're all subjects of the Emperor now, he's keen on presents called tax and these bright-eyed holy men would like a word with your priests.

Banks goes on to note that most civilisations tend to encounter an Outside Context Problem only once, at the point where that particular civilisation ends or is subsumed into the more powerful one. (Incidentally this is also the title of a series of eBooks by Christopher Nuttall which are satisfyingly geeky.)

Of course, there are plenty of fictional examples of invasion, I guess ranging from the barely-competent aliens in Niven & Pournelle's "Footfall" (who were easily detected) and the almost-Gods of Arthur C Clarke's "Childhood's End" who basically just turned up without warning. It's too varied a field to come up with an idea of how we could detect them.

In 1750 Issac Newton became discouraged when he fell up a flight of stairs.

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