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Google's Project Loon Can Now Launch Up To 20 Balloons Per Day, Fly 10x Longer 116

An anonymous reader writes Google [Thursday] shared an update from Project Loon, the company's initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to remote areas of the world via hot air balloons. Google says it now has the ability to launch up to 20 of these balloons per day. This is in part possible because the company has improved its autofill equipment to a point where it can fill a balloon in under five minutes. This is a major achievement, given that Google says filling a Project Loon balloon with enough air so that it is ready for flight is the equivalent of inflating 7,000 party balloons.

Genes Don't Just Predict Intelligence, But Also How Well You Do In School 154

sciencehabit writes: If you sailed through school with high grades and perfect test scores, you probably did it with traits beyond sheer smarts. A new study of more than 6000 pairs of twins finds that academic achievement is influenced by genes affecting motivation, personality, confidence, and dozens of other traits, in addition to those that shape intelligence (abstract). The results may lead to new ways to improve childhood education.

Ozone Layer Recovering But Remains Threatened 59

First time accepted submitter i kan reed writes in with some good news from the ozone report of the United Nations. The Earth’s protective ozone layer is on track to recover by the middle of the century, the United Nations today reported, urging unified action to tackle climate change and curb continued fluctuations to the composition of the atmosphere. That is according to the assessment of 300 scientists in the summary document of the Scientific Assessment of Ozone Depletion 2014, published by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a news release. “This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of climate change.”

Microsoft Killing Off Windows Phone Brand Name In Favor of Just Windows 352

DroidJason1 writes Microsoft is killing off the "Windows Phone" name in favor of Windows. The company also plans to drop the "Nokia" name from handsets in favor of just "Lumia." These details were revealed in a leaked memo. We've already begun seeing these changes in recent advertisements from Microsoft and it makes perfect sense seeing as how Microsoft is shifting towards one operating system to rule them all.

Comment VZW appeared overloaded, not blocked (Score 2) 211

VZW appeared heavily overloaded and calls were not going through. Additionally, text messages also appeared to be throttled or heavily delayed. If this was a result of jamming or some other technology to throttle the network, calls were being placed, they were not however providing audio. I received about 20 calls from my girlfriend who lives in the area and her calls were ringing through and "completing", but no audio was making it over the line. Calls I was placing appeared to ring through (five or six rings?) and made it to voicemail in most cases, although I did get a couple Verizon messages instead of the voicemail box.

Text messages we were sending each other were either extremely delayed or never made it at all (some did). I would go with the disaster norm of badly overloaded. We resorted to email via wifi instead of relying on the cell networks. When she took to the car to pick up her sister in South Boston (T services were shutdown in and around Boston), she was able to start completing calls and texts were making it through.

Comment A racket for many, a valuable experience for few. (Score 2) 716

As a never-went through age 22, I wore skipping college as a badge of pride while I tolled away at various dot coms and consulting companies. I did attempt to go back at 23, but did not appreciate the challenge and went back to work. I decided to restart my college education in my 30s and I have found a new appreciation for the courses taught. If a lesson is learned by a kid going to college, I believe it should not simply be how to buckle down and get work done, but how to critically think and logically examine the many sides of an issue. Personally, I was a pretty black and white thinker through my mid 20s---perhaps I just greyed out of that a little---and I do believe that college education helped me to recognize and analyze multiple opinions and viewpoints on a myriad of issues without being too quick to rush to judgement.

The conversion of a college degree into an MCSE style mill is undermining most of the value that a college diploma would add to a resume. In my initial college venture I encountered a lot of undergrads that seemed to believe that if you just showed up, you would get your diploma and upon graduation be rewarded with your new six figure job (pre-recession). I am not sure where that idea came from, but I felt bad for them. Tens of thousands of dollars of student debt, and limited post-college career prospects often netted well under 40k a year pay, for years, while they learned their actual career skills.

IMHO, the system has turned into a racket. There are a decreasing minority of students who try and make the most of the education and they are the ones who are most likely rewarded on a long-term timeline by their hard work. There also seems to be an increasing majority that treat it as High School Round 2. They simply show up physically, incur huge amounts of debt with no takeaway other than a piece of paper, and then move on to the next hurdle (law or grad school) and repeat the process. Having either type of student coming out into the workforce with massive amounts of debt doesn't seem like a great economy builder to me... Perhaps I am overreaching, but it seems like for-profit education and wreck-less fiscal accountability in the state schools has undermined the entire reason higher education exists, to internalize critical thinking, Socratic methods, and mold well rounded people that help the economy and civilization as a whole positively evolve.

Just my two cents

Anything cut to length will be too short.