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What Restrictions Should Student Laptops Have? 1117

An anonymous reader writes "We're a school district in the beginning phases of a laptop program which has the eventual goal of putting a Macbook in the hands of every student from 6th to 12th grade. The students will essentially own the computers, are expected to take them home every night, and will be able to purchase the laptops for a nominal fee upon graduation. Here's the dilemma — how much freedom do you give to students? The state mandates web filtering on all machines. However, there is some flexibility on exactly what should be filtered. Are things like Facebook and Myspace a legitimate use of a school computer? What about games, forums, or blogs, all of which could be educational, distracting or obscene? We also have the ability to monitor any machine remotely, lock the machine down at certain hours, prevent the installation of any software by the user, and prevent the use of iChat. How far do we take this? While on one hand we need to avoid legal problems and irresponsible behavior, there's a danger of going so far to minimize liability that we make the tool nearly useless. Equally concerning is the message sent to the students. Will a perceived lack of trust cripple the effectiveness of the program?"

Next Year's Laws, Now Out In Beta! 238

Frequent Slashdot Contributor Bennett Haselton writes with his latest which starts "If I were writing laws such that I wanted everybody to agree on how to interpret them, I would use the software development life cycle: First, have lawmakers (analogous to "developers") write drafts of the laws. Then a second group (the "test case writers") would try to come up with situations that would be interpreted ambiguously under the law. Then a third group, the "testers", would read the proposed law, read the test case situations, and try to determine how the law should be applied to those cases, without communicating with the law writers, the test case writers, or each other. If there's too much disagreement in the third group on how the law should be applied, then it's too vague to be a proper law. The only laws which made it through this process would be ones such that when they were finally passed, most citizens (the "users") could agree on how to interpret them, in cases sufficiently similar to the ones the test case writers could come up with."

Install Copyright Filters on PCs, Says RIAA Boss 391

Don't squeeze the Sherman writes "At a conference last week, RIAA president Cary Sherman said he didn't support mandatory filtering by ISPs, but in a video clip posted by Public Knowledge, Sherman offers a far more troubling 'solution': installing filters on users' PCs. From Ars Technica's coverage: 'The issue of encryption "would have to be faced," Sherman admitted after talking about the wonders of filtering. "One could have a filter on the end user's computer that would actually eliminate any benefit from encryption because if you want to hear [the music], you would need to decrypt it, and at that point the filter would work."'"

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