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Are Teachers Headed For Obsolescence? 570

dstates writes "One Laptop Per Child reports encouraging results of a bold experiment to reach the millions of students worldwide who have no access to primary school. OLPC delivered tablets to two Ethiopian villages in unmarked boxes without instructions or instructors. Within minutes the kids were opening the boxes and figuring out how to use the Motorola Zoom tablets, within days they were playing alphabet songs and withing a few months how to hack the user interface to enable blocked camera functionality. With the Kahn Academy and others at the high school level and massive open online courses at the college level, are teachers going the way of the Dodo?"
The Military

Iran's High Tech Copycat War Against the West: Drones and Cyberwar 159

An anonymous reader writes "Iran and its nuclear program seem to be getting all the headlines. Yet, Iran has found a way to respond to western cyber attacks such as Stuxnet, drone surveillance and targeted assassinations; they've decided to respond in kind. Iran has launched its own cyber attacks on U.S. banks via denial-of-service attacks. Iranian drones recently were used to spy on Israeli nuclear facilities. Cyberweapons were also used against Saudi oil facilities. The goal: to make sure the west, specifically the United States, knows that Iran does have the tools to strike back. While Iran does not have a world-class military like the United States, it does have the capabilities to cause damage if it wants to. With Iran taking to cyberspace and drones, it shows such technology is not just under the control of the U.S. Iran has been careful, though, not to escalate the conflict. The risk: what if the plan backfires and goes beyond its intended scope?"
Data Storage

Reiser4 File System Still In Development 317

An anonymous reader writes "Reiser4 still hasn't been merged into the mainline Linux kernel, but it's still being worked on by a small group of developers following Hans Reiser being convicted for murdering his wife. Reiser4 was updated in September on SourceForge to work with the Linux 3.5 kernel and has been benchmarked against EXT4, Btrfs, XFS, and ReiserFS. Reiser4 loses out in most of the Linux file-system performance tests, has much stigma due to Hans Reiser, and Btrfs is surpassing it feature-wise, so does it have any future in Linux ahead?"
Wireless Networking

Is Mobile Broadband a Luxury Or a Human Right? 332

concealment sends this quote from an article at CNN: "Moderating a discussion on the future of broadband, Mashable editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff tossed a provocative question to the audience: 'By quick show of hands, how many out there think that broadband is a luxury?' Next question: 'How many out there think it is a human right?' That option easily carried the audience vote. Broadband access is too important to society to be relegated to a small, privileged portion of the world population, Hans Vestberg, president and CEO of Ericsson, said during the discussion. Dr. Hamadoun Touré, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, echoed Vestberg's remarks. 'We need to make sure all the world's inhabitants are connected to the goodies of the online world, which means better health care, better education, more sustainable economic and social development,' Touré said."

Torvalds Uses Profanity To Lambaste Romney Remarks 1223

netbuzz writes "Last night Linux creator Linus Torvalds took to his Google+ page and called Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney 'a f***ing moron.' Torvalds' stated reason? Romney's much-ridiculed suggestion that air passengers would be safer in emergencies if aircraft windows could be opened (a suggestion which some, including, have taken as a joke). Torvalds also recently called Mormonism, Romney's religion, 'bats**t crazy.' Is this just Linus being Linus? Or does such outspokenness on non-technical matters reflect poorly on the Linux community that Torvalds leads?"

Suitable Technology's Telepresence Robot Lets You Roll Remotely 51

DeviceGuru writes "Suitable Technologies today unveiled a telepresence robot based on technology from Willow Garage, a robotics research lab. Beam (as in 'Beam me up, Scotty' — no, really!) implements a video chat function on a computer you can remotely drive around via Internet-based control. Beam, which stands 62 inches tall and weighs 95 pounds, adheres to four operational imperatives, which are intended to mimic human interaction and behavior: reciprocity of vision (if I see you, you must see me); ensuring private communication (no recordings of what goes on); transparency of technology (keeping the interaction natural); and respect social norms (don't push or shove Beam!). But the big question is: Does Beam also adhere to Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics? Let's hope so!"

Presentation Scales In Massive Online Courses; Does Interaction? 63

lpress writes "Coursera has demonstrated that they can scale presentations in massive, open, online courses — they have reached over 1.3 million students in 195 countries since they were funded in April. But can they scale student interaction? As of this morning, 7,839 Coursera students had formed 1,119 communities on in 1,014 cities — many outside the U.S." On the whole, isn't that a positive outcome?

Major Backlash Looms For Apple's New Maps App 466

Hugh Pickens writes "Michael DeGusta writes that Apple's new Maps app is the very first item on their list of major new features in iOS 6, but for many iPhone and iPad users around the world Apple's new maps are going to be a major disappointment as the Transit function will be lost in 51 countries, the Traffic function will be lost in 24 countries, and the Street View function will be lost in 41 countries. 'In total, 63 countries with a combined population of 4.5 billion people will be without one or more of these features they previously had in iOS,' writes DeGusta. 'Apple is risking upsetting 65% of the world's population, seemingly without much greater purpose than speeding the removal of their rival Google from iOS. Few consumers care about such battles though, nor should they have to.' The biggest losers will be Brazil, India, Taiwan, and Thailand (population: 1.5 billion) which overnight will go from being countries with every maps feature (transit, traffic, and street view) to countries with none of those features, nor any of the new features, flyover and turn-by-turn directions. Apple's maps are clearly behind in some key areas, but they will presumably continue to improve over time. Google has committed to making their maps available everywhere, so it seems likely Google will release their own iOS maps app soon, as they did with YouTube, which has similarly been removed from iOS 6." But what percentage of people who actually buy iPhones lost these features?

More Warnings About High-Frequency Trading 500

bfwebster writes "From The Big Picture (a great finance/econ blog) comes a link to this New York Times article on some of the risks and problems of high-frequency trading on financial markets and a couple of 'gadflies' who are pushing hard to get some changes and reforms in how Wall Street handles HFT. Key question: when is fast trading too fast?"

Election Tech: In Canada, They Actually Count the Votes 500

Presto Vivace writes with this outline of what voting can look like while remaining countable and anonymous — and how it does look north of the U.S. border. "In Canada, they use hand-marked paper ballots, hand counted in public. Among other things, that process means that we can actually be sure who won. And if the elections of 2000 and 2008 are any guide, and the race stays as close as the pollsters sat it is, we might, on Wednesday, November 7, not be sure who won." Any Canadians among our readers who want to comment on this?"

Could Flying Cars Actually Be On Their Way? 381

another random user writes "With ideas like the Taylor Aerocar, Terrafugia Transition, Terrafugia Transformer, the PAL-V, and myCopter, are we getting close to a point where flying cars could actually become practical? An article at the BBC discusses how adding automation to these craft is an important goal for the people currently working on them, something we see paralleled in the many projects to develop autonomous non-flying cars. 'The team intends to draw on drone technology to automate as much of the flying as possible. Current fly-by-wire technology, as well as some of the features being used in the development of autonomous or robotic vehicles could all help fleets of these vehicles fly along predefined highways – and crucially avoid each other. But perhaps the biggest problem the team aim to tackle are the regulatory and safety issues, as well as those of public opinion.' If that does happen, given a lot of drivers' inability to pay attention to what's going on around them on the roads as it is now, how safe would you feel in the air?"

Could You Hack Into Mars Curiosity Rover? 452

MrSeb writes "NASA's Curiosity rover has now been on the surface of Mars for just over a week. It hasn't moved an inch after landing, instead focusing on orienting itself (and NASA's scientists) by taking instrument readings and snapping images of its surroundings. The first beautiful full-color images of Gale Crater are starting to trickle in, and NASA has already picked out some interesting rock formations that it will investigate further in the next few days. Over the weekend and continuing throughout today, however, Curiosity is attempting something very risky indeed: A firmware upgrade. This got me thinking: If NASA can transmit new software to a Mars rover that's hundreds of millions of miles away... why can't a hacker do the same thing? In short, there's no reason a hacker couldn't take control of Curiosity, or lock NASA out. All you would need is your own massive 230-foot dish antenna and a 400-kilowatt transmitter — or, perhaps more realistically, you could hack into NASA's computer systems, which is exactly what Chinese hackers did 13 times in 2011."

The Pacific Ocean Is Polluted With Coffee 294

An anonymous reader writes in with this excerpt from Inhabitat:"People aren't the only ones getting a jolt from caffeine these days; in a new study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, scientists found elevated concentrations of caffeine in the Pacific Ocean in areas off the coast of Oregon. With all those coffee drinkers in the Pacific Northwest, it should be no surprise that human waste containing caffeine would ultimately make its way through municipal water systems and out to sea – but how will the presence of caffeine in our oceans affect human health and natural ecosystems?"

University Receives $5 Million Grant To Study Immortality 532

Hugh Pickens writes "Humans have pondered their mortality for millennia. Now the University of California at Riverside reports that it has received a $5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation that will fund research on aspects of immortality, including near-death experiences and the impact of belief in an afterlife on human behavior. 'People have been thinking about immortality throughout history. We have a deep human need to figure out what happens to us after death,' says John Martin Fischer, the principal investigator of The Immortality Project. 'No one has taken a comprehensive and sustained look at immortality that brings together the science, theology and philosophy.' Fischer says he going to investigate two different kinds of immortality. One is the possibility of living forever without dying. The main questions there are whether it's technologically plausible or feasible for us, either by biological enhancement such as those described by Ray Kurzweil, or by some combination of biological enhancement and uploading our minds onto computers in the future. Second would be to investigate the full range of questions about Judeo, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and other Asian religions' conceptions of the afterlife to see if they're theologically and philosophically consistent. 'We'll look at near death experiences both in western cultures and throughout the world and really look at what they're all about and ask the question — do they indicate something about an afterlife or are they kind of just illusions that we're hardwired into?'"

Why We Love Firefox, and Why We Hate It 665

An anonymous reader sends this quote from Conceivably Tech: "Admit it. You are in a love-hate relationship with Firefox. Either Mozilla gets Firefox right and you are jumping up and down, or Mozilla screws up and you threaten to ditch the browser in favor Chrome. Mozilla's passionate user base keeps Firefox dangling between constant ups and downs, which is a good thing, as long as Mozilla is going up. Unfortunately, that is not the case right now. Mozilla's market share has been slipping again at a significant pace. There has been some discussion and finger-pointing, and it seems that the rapid release process has to take the blame this time. Are we right to blame the rapid release process?" What do you find most annoying or gratifying about Firefox these days?

365 Days of drinking Lo-Cal beer. = 1 Lite-year