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Just Say No To College 716

Hugh Pickens writes writes "Alex Williams writes in the NY Times that the idea that a college diploma is an all-but-mandatory ticket to a successful career is showing fissures. Inspired by role models like the billionaire drop-outs who founded Microsoft, Facebook, Dell, Twitter, Tumblr, and Apple, and empowered by online college courses, a groundswell of university-age heretics consider themselves a DIY vanguard, committed to changing the perception of dropping out from a personal failure to a sensible option, at least for a certain breed of risk-embracing maverick. 'Here in Silicon Valley, it's almost a badge of honor,' says Mick Hagen, 28, who dropped out of Princeton in 2006 and moved to San Francisco, where he started Undrip, a mobile app. 'College puts a lot of constraints, a lot of limitations around what you can and can't do. Some people, they want to stretch their arms, get out and create more, do more.' Perhaps most famously, Peter A. Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, in 2010 started his Thiel Fellowship program, which pays students under 20 years old $100,000 apiece to bag college and pursue their own ventures. 'People are being conned into thinking that this credential is the one thing you need to do better in life. They typically are worse off, because they have amassed all this debt.' UnCollege advocates a DIY approach to higher education and spreads the message through informational 'hackademic camps.' 'Hacking,' in the group's parlance, can involve any manner of self-directed learning: travel, volunteer work, organizing collaborative learning groups with friends. Students who want to avoid $200,000 in student-loan debt might consider enrolling in a technology boot camp, where you can learn to write code in 8 to 10 weeks for about $10,000. 'I think kids with a five-year head start on equally ambitious peers will be ahead in both education and income,' says James Altucher, a prominent investor, entrepreneur and pundit who self-published a book called '40 Alternatives to College.' 'They could go to a library, read a book a day, take courses online. There are thousands of ways.'"

Light Bulb Ban Produces Hoarding In EU, FUD In U.S. 1080

Lucas123 writes "The very thought of losing that pear-shaped giver of warm, yellow light drove Europeans to hoard Edison's invention [Note: Or possibly Joseph Swan's invention; HT to eldavojohn.] as the EU's Sept. 1 ban on incandescent light bulbs approached. China's ban on incandescent lamps starts Oct. 1. And, in the U.S., the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007 effectively began banning the 100W bulb this year and will ban the most popular bulbs — the 75W, 60W and 40W screw-in incandescent bulbs --over the next two years. The end standard requires bulbs to use 65% less energy by 2020. But Republicans in Congress continue to fight the ban by hamstringing the energy efficiency standards through appropriations legislation, cutting off funds for the enforcement of the light bulb ban."

UK's FSA Finds No Health Benefits To Organic Food 921

blackbeak writes "The UK Food Standards Agency's 'Independant Organic Review' results were just released, and the BBC rushed to publish the findings in the shockingly titled article, 'No Health Benefits to Organic Food.' From the article, 'There is little difference in nutritional value and no evidence of any extra health benefits from eating organic produce, UK researchers found.' A peek into the research at Postpeakpublishing provides a slightly deeper look."

Indian CEO Says Most US Tech Grads "Unemployable" 1144

theodp writes "When questioned about his firm's US hiring, Information Week reports that Vineet Nayar, the CEO of the Indian outsourcing giant HCL Technologies, showed he can stereotype with the best of them, telling an audience in NYC that most American tech grads are 'unemployable.' Explaining that Americans are far less willing than students from developing economies like India, China, and Brazil to master the 'boring' details of tech process and methodology, the HCL chief added that most Americans are just too expensive to train. HCL, which was reportedly awarded a secretive $170 million outsourcing contract by Microsoft last April, gets a personal thumbs-up from Steve Ballmer for 'walking the extra mile.' Ballmer was busy last week pitching more H-1B visas as the cure for America's job ills at The National Summit."
The Courts

Internet-Caused Mistrials Are On the Rise 414

The NYTimes is running a tip-of-the-iceberg story about how the age of Google is resulting in more mistrials as the traditional rules of evidence, honed over many centuries, collide with the always-on Internet. Especially when jurors carry the always-on Internet in their pockets. (We discussed one such case recently.) "The use of BlackBerrys and iPhones by jurors gathering and sending out information about cases is wreaking havoc on trials around the country, upending deliberations and infuriating judges. ... Jurors are not supposed to seek information outside of the courtroom. They are required to reach a verdict based on only the facts the judge has decided are admissible, and they are not supposed to see evidence that has been excluded as prejudicial. But now, using their cellphones, they can look up the name of a defendant on the Web or examine an intersection using Google Maps, violating the legal system's complex rules of evidence."

Auto Safety Tech May Encourage Dangerous Driving 601

longacre writes "Modern highway planning schemes designed to make roads safer combined with the comfort and safety technology found in the modern automobile may actually be putting us in danger, according to a compelling piece in Popular Mechanics. Citing studies and anecdotal evidence, the article points out that a driver on a narrow mountain road will probably drive as if their life depends on it; but the same driver on an eight-lane freeway with gradual curves and little traffic may be lulled into speeding while chatting on his cellphone. Quoting: 'Modern cars are quiet, powerful and capable of astonishing grip in curves, even on wet pavement. That's swell, of course, until you suddenly lose traction at 75 mph. The sense of confidence bred by all this capability makes us feel safe, which causes us to drive faster than we probably should. We don't want to make cars with poor response, but perhaps we could design cues — steering-wheel vibration devices, as in video games? — that make us feel less safe at speed and encourage more care. ... In college I drove an Austin-Healey 3000 that somehow felt faster at 45 mph than my Mazda RX-8 (or even my Toyota Highlander Hybrid) feels at 75 mph. That was a good thing.'"

Women Skip Math/Science Careers To Have Families 616

hessian notes a Cornell survey, published in the Psychological Bulletin, of 35 years of sociological studies that concludes that women tend to choose non-math-intensive fields for their careers not because they lack mathematical ability, but because they want flexibility to raise children or prefer less math-intensive fields of science. "'A major reason explaining why women are underrepresented not only in math-intensive fields but also in senior leadership positions in most fields is that many women choose to have children, and the timing of child rearing coincides with the most demanding periods of their career, such as trying to get tenure or working exorbitant hours to get promoted,' said lead author Stephen J. Ceci... The authors concluded that hormonal, brain, and other biological sex differences were not primary factors in explaining why women were underrepresented in science careers, and that studies on social and cultural effects were inconsistent and inconclusive. They also reported that although 'institutional barriers and discrimination exist, these influences still cannot explain why women are not entering or staying in STEM careers,' said Ceci."

Security Checkpoints Predict What You Will Do 369

An anonymous reader writes "New security check points in 2020 will look just like something out of the futuristic movie, The Minority Report. The idea of the new checkpoints will allow high traffic to pass through just as you were walking at a normal pace. No more waving a wand to get through checkpoints — the new checkpoint can detect if you have plans to set off a bomb before you even enter the building."

Do Women Write Better Code? 847

JCWDenton writes "The senior vice-president of engineering for computer-database company Ingres-and one of Silicon Valley's highest-ranking female programmers-insists that men and women write code differently. Women are more touchy-feely and considerate of those who will use the code later, she says. They'll intersperse their code ... with helpful comments and directions, explaining why they wrote the lines the way they did and exactly how they did it. The code becomes a type of 'roadmap' for others who might want to alter it or add to it later, says McGrattan, a native of Ireland who has been with Ingres since 1992. Men, on the other hand, have no such pretenses. Often, 'they try to show how clever they are by writing very cryptic code,' she tells the Business Technology Blog. 'They try to obfuscate things in the code,' and don't leave clear directions for people using it later. "

Microsoft Acknowledges Open Source As a Bigger Threat Than Google 376

ruphus13 takes us to ZDNet for an analysis of comments by Microsoft's Chief Software Architect, Ray Ozzie, about how open source is "much more potentially disruptive" to Microsoft's business strategy than Google. Ozzie also spoke about the future of Microsoft's search technology, which will develop with or without Yahoo. There is a related interview at OStatic with several Microsoft employees about how they view and interact with the open source community. The head of Microsoft's global open source and Linux team is quoted saying: "The other thing I think is missing is implementation of a basic principle of economic fairness. Thousands of developers have put very hard work into building software used by millions of people and companies, yet only a fraction of these developers are rewarded financially. Currently there are perfectly good projects that have been abandoned by their developers despite being used by large corporations. Subsequently the projects fall out of use. This is unnecessary waste that would often be prevented by making it easy for companies to pay the developers directly. I think it's important to solve this so that the sustainability of open source projects is improved."

Long Live Closed-Source Software? 676

EvilRyry writes "In an article for Discover Magazine, Jaron Lanier writes about his belief that open source produces nothing interesting because of a hide-bound mentality. 'Open wisdom-of-crowds software movements have become influential, but they haven't promoted the kind of radical creativity I love most in computer science. If anything, they've been hindrances. Some of the youngest, brightest minds have been trapped in a 1970s intellectual framework because they are hypnotized into accepting old software designs as if they were facts of nature. Linux is a superbly polished copy of an antique, shinier than the original, perhaps, but still defined by it.'"

"Spock, did you see the looks on their faces?" "Yes, Captain, a sort of vacant contentment."