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Ask Slashdot: Why Aren't Schools Connected? 568

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the because-blackboard-will-break-your-knees dept.
rtobyr writes "We use the Internet — E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to communicate with colleagues, friends, and family. When I was in Iraq with the Marine Corps, we used e-mail (secured with encryption and stuff, but e-mail nonetheless) to communicate the commanding officer's order that a combat mission should be carried out. My third grade daughter produces her own YouTube videos, and can create public servers for her games with virtual private network technology. Yet here I am trusting a third grade girl to deliver memos to me about her educational requirements in an age in which I can't remember the last time I used paper. Teachers could have distribution lists of the parents. The kids' homework is printed. Therefore, it must have started as a computer file (I hope they're not still using mimeograph machines). Teachers could e-mail a summary of what's going on, and attach the homework files along with other notices about field trips or conferences that parents should be aware of. Teachers could have an easy way to post all these files to the Internet on blogs. With RSS, parents could subscribe to receive everything that teachers put online. If teachers want to add to the blog their own personal comments about how the school year is going, then all the parents would see that also, and perhaps have the opportunity to comment on the blog. It seems to me that with the right processes, the cost and additional workload would be insignificant. For example, instead of developing a syllabus in MS Word, use Wordpress. Have schools simply not paid attention to the past decade of technology, or is there a reason that these things aren't in place?" It seems odd that primary schools in at least the U.S. don't use technology to communicate with students much. My younger sister went to a private school that made reasonable use of Blackboard, but that seems to be the exception.
Image

US Embassy Categorizes Beijing Air Quality As 'Crazy Bad' 270 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-totally-sucks dept.
digitaldc writes "Pollution in Beijing was so bad Friday the US embassy, which has been independently monitoring air quality, ran out of conventional adjectives to describe it, at one point saying it was 'crazy bad.' The embassy later deleted the phrase, saying it was an 'incorrect' description and it would revise the language to use when the air quality index goes above 500, its highest point and a level considered hazardous for all people by US standards. The hazardous haze has forced schools to stop outdoor exercises, and health experts asked residents, especially those with respiratory problems, the elderly and children, to stay indoors."
Security

TSA Pats Down 3-Year-Old 1135

Posted by samzenpus
from the security-theater dept.
3-year-old Mandy Simon started crying when her teddy bear had to go through the X-ray machine at airport security in Chattanooga, Tenn. She was so upset that she refused to go calmly through the metal detector, setting it off twice. Agents then informed her parents that she "must be hand-searched." The subsequent TSA employee pat down of the screaming child was captured by her father, who happens to be a reporter, on his cell phone. The video have left some questioning why better procedures for children aren't in place. I, for one, feel much safer knowing the TSA is protecting us from impressionable minds warped by too much Dora the Explorer.
Image

Debt Collectors Using Facebook To Embarrass Those Who Owe 266 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up-or-be-unfriended dept.
Not even the tranquility of FarmVille can save you from the long arm of debt collectors. Melanie Beacham says that a collector from MarkOne Financial contacted her relatives about her past due car note via Facebook. She is filing suit alleging that the company is harassing her family. Tampa based consumer attorney Billy Howard of Morgan & Morgan says, "Now Facebook does a debt collectors work for them. Now it's not only family members, it's all of your associates. It's a very powerful tool for debt collectors to use."
Image

Denver Rejects UFO Agency To Track Aliens 80 Screenshot-sm

Posted by samzenpus
from the name-and-galaxy-of-origin-please dept.
Republicans weren't the only ones to win big yesterday. Aliens in The Mile-High City can breathe easier thanks to voters rejecting a plan to officially track them. From the article: "The proposal defeated soundly Tuesday night would have established a commission to track extraterrestrials. It also would have allowed residents to post their observations on Denver's city Web page and report sightings." Let the anonymous probings begin!
Hardware Hacking

Building a Telegraph Using Only Stone Age Materials 238

Posted by samzenpus
from the from-scratch dept.
MMBK writes "It's the ultimate salvagepunk experiment, building a telegraph out of things found in the woods. From the article: 'During the summer of 2009, artist Jamie O’Shea of the organization Substitute Materials set out to test whether or not electronic communication could have been built at any time in history with the proper knowledge, and with only tools and materials found in the wilderness of New Jersey.'"
Social Networks

Meg Whitman Campaign Shows How Not To Use Twitter 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the type-slower dept.
tsamsoniw writes "California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's campaign team attempted to share with her Twitter followers an endorsement from a police association. Unfortunately, the campaign press secretary entered an incorrect or incomplete Bit.ly URL in the Tweet, which took clickers to a YouTube video featuring a bespectacled, long-haired Japanese man in a tutu and leggings rocking out on a bass guitar. And for whatever reason, the Tweet, which went out on the 18th, has remained active through today."
Security

+ - New Use for Old Captchas->

Submitted by
tomandlu
tomandlu writes "The BBC is reporting that Carnegie Mellon University has found a novel use for CAPTCHAs — deciphering old texts. A sort of distributed computing project...

Basically, the CAPTCHA is made up of two words — one of which is known to Carnegie, and one of which isn't. If the user correctly deciphers the known CAPTCHA, then the unknown CAPTCHA is assumed to be correct. Well, almost. Two different users must give the same answer to the same unknown CAPTCHA before it is taken off the list.

Clever, IMHO, and might at least give us some consolation as we squint at those damn characters.

Of course, all this could be screwed if too many bots starting using the same algorithm to incorrectly guess the answer..."

Link to Original Source
Space

Astronomers Find Huge Hole in Universe 628

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the no-it's-not-rosie-o'donnell dept.
realwx writes "Astronomers are surprised by a recent discovery of a space hole that is nearly a billion light years across. "Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even expected to find one this size," said researcher Lawrence Rudnick of the University of Minnesota. Rudnick's colleague Liliya R. Williams also had not anticipated this finding. "What we've found is not normal, based on either observational studies or on computer simulations of the large-scale evolution of the universe," said Williams, also of the University of Minnesota.""

Comment: Re:Since they're just using Primes (Score 4, Interesting) 601

by alanxyzzy (#18989677) Attached to: AACS Vows to Fight Bloggers
But it's not a prime - that's obvious, since the last digit of the decimal expansion is 0.

Oops - have I just infringed someone's valuable intellectual property?

What if I said it's also divisible by 19?

Or that the next-to-last digit is 4?

Could a lawyer please advise how many clues I can provide before I might get sued?
Data Storage

So You've Lost a $38 Billion File 511

Posted by Zonk
from the makes-you-feel-better-about-yourself dept.
smooth wombat writes "Imagine you're reformatting a hard drive so you can do a clean install but then realize that you have also reformatted the back up hard drive. No problem. You reach for your back up tapes only to find out that the information on the tapes is unreadable. Now imagine the information that is lost was worth $38 billion. This scenario is apparently what happened in July to the Alaska Department of Revenue. From the article: 'Nine months worth of information concerning the yearly payout from the Alaska Permanent Fund was gone: some 800,000 electronic images that had been painstakingly scanned into the system months earlier, the 2006 paper applications that people had either mailed in or filed over the counter, and supporting documentation such as birth certificates and proof of residence.' Using the 300 cardboard boxes containing all the information, staff worked overtime for several months to rescan everything at an additional cost of $200,000."

If you have a procedure with 10 parameters, you probably missed some.

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