cheezitmike writes: Jaron Lanier helped to pioneer the field of Virtual Reality in the 1980's and was an influential part of the early days of the digital revolution. But later, he turned against the web culture that he helped to create. Smithsonian Magazine talked to Lanier to explore his thinking on how the Internet is leading our culture the wrong way: 'Lanier was one of the creators of our current digital reality and now he wants to subvert the “hive mind,” as the web world’s been called, before it engulfs us all, destroys political discourse, economic stability, the dignity of personhood and leads to “social catastrophe.”'
cheezitmike writes: In a two-part series, the American Academy for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) examines two hot-button topics that create clashes in the classroom between science teachers and conservative-leaning students, parents, school boards, and state legislatures. Part 1 looks at the struggle of teachers to cover evolution in the face of religious push-back from students and legislatures. Part 2 deals with teaching climate change, and how teachers increasingly have to deal with political pressure from those who insist that there must be two sides to the discussion.
cheezitmike writes: Fermilab astrophysicist Jason Steffen, waiting for a flight to leave, noticed that airlines wasted a lot of time boarding passengers and figured there had to be a better way: "Steffen considered various methods, such as boarding people in blocks, at random, and in window seats first. He set up a model using an algorithm based on the Monte Carlo optimization method used in statistics and mathematics. He found that the most efficient boarding method is to board alternate rows at a time, beginning with the window seats on one side, then the other, minimizing aisle interference. The window seats are followed by alternate rows of middle seats, then aisle seats. He also found that boarding at random is faster that boarding by blocks."
cheezitmike writes: IBM has created two prototype computer chips which process data similar to the way humans digest information: "The challenge in training a computer to behave like a human brain is technological and physiological, testing the limits of computer and brain science. But researchers from IBM Corp. say they've made a key step toward combining the two worlds. The company announced Thursday that it has built two prototype chips that it says process data more like how humans digest information than the chips that now power PCs and supercomputers."
cheezitmike writes: From NPR, a story about how software patents and their licensing and litigation are harming the IT industry. NPR specifically shines the light on a company called Intellectual Ventures which owns 35,000 patents: "Technology companies pay Intellectual Ventures fees ranging "from tens of thousands to the millions and millions of dollars... to buy themselves insurance that protects them from being sued by any harmful, malevolent outsiders," Sacca says. There's an implication in IV's pitch, Sacca says: If you don't join us, who knows what'll happen?"
cheezitmike writes: While there has been lots of outcry about Netflix separating DVD service from streaming service, streaming media expert Eric Garland says they're just doing to the DVD what Apple did to the floppy disk. "I was reminded of so many precedents: Facebook revamping its user interface, the introduction of the first Blueberry iMac, the one with the conspicuously missing 3.5-inch floppy drive on the front. All of these were moments when there was a paradigm shift that led to an immediate public outcry. People made a lot of noise and had a lot of complaints. People were very upset about these shifts...until they weren't. In the news cycle, the outcry is significant and it is problematic, but it's also important to note how quickly these things are forgotten."
cheezitmike writes: A report released by the US Department of Health and Human Services inspector general found that the push to convert health care providers to electronic medical records overlooks computer and network security concerns. From the story: "To underscore the point, the second audit examined computer security at seven large hospitals in different states and found 151 security vulnerabilities, from ineffective wireless encryption to a taped-over door lock on a room used for data storage."
cheezitmike writes: A Washington Post story tells how former automotive engineer Paul Conlin just wanted to get broadband at his rural home in Fauquier County, Virginia, and ended up forming his own wireless ISP: "Paul Conlin, the proprietor of Blaze Broadband, is not a typical telecom executive. He drives a red pickup and climbs roofs. When customers call tech support, he is the one who answers. Conlin delivers broadband to Fauquier County homes bypassed by Comcast and Verizon, bouncing wireless signals from antennas on barns, silos, water towers and cellphone poles."