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Education

Google and Gates-Backed Khan Academy Introduces "Grit"-Based Classroom Funding 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the effort-counts dept.
theodp writes: Their intentions are no doubt good, but some will be troubled by Google and Khan Academy's recently-concluded LearnStorm initiative, which pitted kids-against-kids, schools-against-schools, and cities-against-cities in a 3-month learning challenge for prizes based not only on students' mastery of math skills on Khan Academy, but also their perceived 'hustle' (aka 'grit'). "Points are earned by mastering math skills and also for taking on challenging new concepts and persevering," explained a Khan Academy FAQ. A blog entry further explained, "They've earned points and prizes not only for mastering math skills but also for showing 'hustle,' a metric we created to measure grit, perseverance, and growth. They competed over 200,000 hours of learning and 13.6 million standards-aligned math problems. In addition, thanks to the generosity of Google.org, DonorsChoose.org, and Comcast's Internet Essentials, 34 underserved schools unlocked new devices for their classrooms and free home internet service for eligible families, increasing student access to online learning tools like Khan Academy." Apparently funded by a $2 million Google grant, the Google, Khan Academy, and DonorsChoose grit-based classroom funding comes on the heels of the same organizations' gender-based classroom funding initiative. Supported by some of the world's wealthiest individuals and corporations, Khan Academy's Board members include a Google Board member (Diane Green), spouse of a Google Board member (Ann Doerr), and the Managing Partner of Bill Gates' bgC3 (Larry Cohen); former Board members include Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Comment: It reminds me of this quote from slightly later (Score 2) 386

by VAXcat (#49759791) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0
"And the Dark Lord made Orcs in mockery of Elves, and Trolls in mockery of Ents; and he made DOS in mockery of CP/M, and Windows in mockery of Macs, and NT in mockery of Netware; and he made Excel in mockery of VisiCalc, and Explorer in mockery of Navigator, and Word in mockery of WordPerfect; and he made MSNetwork in mockery of America Online; and on every side his foes fell reeling, defeated one by one as he crushed them by sheer weight of numbers, his hosts darkening the plain; and in the twilight years of the Second Millenium the Free Peoples of the West said, Lo, let us face this pestilence and destroy it, lest he turn all of Middle-Earth into a nest of foulness. And they forged the One OS, and they called it Copland; and they gathered their allies, the IBM Host and the Riders of Motorola, and they prepared for the final battle." Unfortunately, we lost the final battle, and the Darkness of Microsoft has swallowed up the land.
AI

New 'Deep Learning' Technique Lets Robots Learn Through Trial-and-Error 64

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-killing-all-humans-didn't-work,-so-kill-all-humans-next-time dept.
jan_jes writes: UC Berkeley researchers turned to a branch of artificial intelligence known as deep learning for developing algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error. It's a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn, marking a major milestone in the field of artificial intelligence. Their demonstration robot completes tasks such as "putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more" without pre-programmed details about its surroundings. The challenge of putting robots into real-life settings (e.g. homes or offices) is that those environments are constantly changing. The robot must be able to perceive and adapt to its surroundings, so this type of learning is an important step.
Programming

Video Games: Gateway To a Programming Career? 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-gateway-to-doritos dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: Want more people to program? Encourage them to play more video games, at least according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. In an online Q&A, Zuckerberg suggested that a lifetime spent playing video games could prep kids and young adults for careers as programmers. "I actually think giving people the opportunity to play around with different stuff is one of the best things you can do," he told the audience. "I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I hadn't played games as a kid." A handful of games, most notably Minecraft, already have a reputation for encouraging kids to not only think analytically, but also modify the gaming environment — the first steps toward actually wrestling with code. Those of you who have done programming work in your career: did video games influence your path?
Chrome

New Chrome Extension Uses Sound To Share URLs Between Devices 77

Posted by samzenpus
from the sound-of-malware dept.
itwbennett writes: Google Tone is an experimental feature that could be used to easily and instantly share browser pages, search results, videos and other pages among devices, according to Google Research. "The initial prototype used an efficient audio transmission scheme that sounded terrible, so we played it beyond the range of human hearing," researcher Alex Kauffmann and software engineer Boris Smus wrote in a post on the Google Research blog.
Government

Do Russian Uranium Deals Threaten World Supply Security? 99

Posted by samzenpus
from the plenty-to-go-around dept.
Lasrick writes: A recent article in the New York Times notes that the Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and associated firms are gaining control of a growing number of uranium resources and mining operations. The article, headlined Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal focuses on donations to charities connected to former US President Bill Clinton and his family, made by businessmen who stood to profit from the sale of Uranium One, a Canadian company with worldwide uranium-mining interests. But a major premise of the article is that Russian uranium control threatens the security of the global uranium supply. Steve Fetter and Erich Schneider demolish the idea that Russian control of uranium stocks is a threat to global security.

Comment: Why make it less secure? (Score 2) 384

by Etcetera (#49737473) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Solve a Unique Networking Issue?

Dear Lord...

You have an airgapped network that prevents remote access, reducing the question of security to one of physical security... which is typically handled with big locks, cameras, 24 hour staffing at the gas station, and maybe men with guns if it comes down to it.

Why would you network these together and create an avenue for simultaneous, surruptitious hacking and attacking of your industrial equipment?

Be thankful you have a job, and don't let the SysAdmin's (natural, and usually good) desire for laziness and efficiency to lead to a future security issue justified by convenience.

Networking

Ask Slashdot: Best Way To Solve a Unique Networking Issue? 384

Posted by timothy
from the that-seems-like-a-decent-way dept.
New submitter petro-tech writes: I work as a service technician, maintaining and repairing gas pumps and POS equipment. In my day to day activities, one that consumes a ton of time and is relatively regular is the process of upgrading the software on pumps. This is done by connecting to the pump via direct ethernet from my laptop, then running a manufacturer-provided program that connects to the device and pushes the new software. Some sites have 8+ pumps with 2 devices in each, and at 20-30 minutes apiece this can be quite time consuming. Unfortunately the devices are not actually on a network, and as such cannot be updated remotely, also since they are not on a network, they are all configured with the same IP address. Additionally the software doesn't allow you to specify the adapter to use. I would like to be able to get to a site, connect a cable to each pump, and load them all at the same time. The only way I can figure to accomplish this with the software we've been provided is to do this: Get a 16-port powered USB hub, with a usb-ethernet adaptor in each port; Set up 16 VM's with extremely stripped down XP running on each, with only one USB-ethernet adaptor assigned to each VM; Set XP to boot the application for loading software as its shell; and load each device that way at the same time. Is there a better way to accomplish this?
Television

Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television 243

Posted by Soulskill
from the team-shifted-to-smellovision-development dept.
Apple has been rumored to be developing their own line of HDTVs for years, but a new report from the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) says while those plans did exist, they've been abandoned. Apple began pondering the idea of jumping into the television market roughly a decade ago, as iTunes started hosting video content. The AppleTV made a foray into living rooms in 2007, and other devices reached the prototype stage. The company continued to do research and work on their ideas, but eventually gave up more than a year ago. Apple had searched for breakthrough features to justify building an Apple-branded television set, those people said. In addition to an ultra-high-definition display, Apple considered adding sensor-equipped cameras so viewers could make video calls through the set, they said. Ultimately, though, Apple executives didn't consider any of those features compelling enough to enter the highly competitive television market, led by Samsung Electronics Co. Apple typically likes to enter a new product area with innovative technology and easier-to-use software.
Education

Ask Slashdot: What Tech Skills Do HS Students Need To Know Now? 300

Posted by timothy
from the or-at-least-very-soon dept.
heybiff writes: During summer months I deliver brief tech workshops to high school students as part of an enrichment program. Almost all of the students are average students pulled from non-magnet comprehensive high schools throughout our city. Make no mistake — these are not the students who have a love of technology and coding; many were coerced by excited parents or guidance counselors. After doing this for almost 10 years, I have found students have become considerably more comfortable with technology, and confident in their use, especially with smartphones and tablets being ubiquitous. Unfortunately, I also see a lot of basic knowledge and tech skills all but nonexistent. Moreover, students seem unaware that the tech they use daily even has any usefulness for academic activities. So what I put to you fellow Slashdotters is: What do students today realistically have to know to be successful in school? Which tech skills are still important and necessary, and which are gone the way of the typewriter? What misconceptions or outright lies have become so ingrained in young people's use of technology that they need to be addressed? Finally, the program puts laptops in students' hands, to give them a kickstart in being successful; what skills do they need to get the most out of the new hardware they were just given?
Networking

Microwave Comms Betwen Population Centers Could Be Key To Easing Internet Bottlenecks 221

Posted by timothy
from the you'll-get-cancer-and-be-well-done dept.
itwbennett writes: Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Duke University recently looked at the main causes of Internet latency and what it would take to achieve speed-of-light performance. The first part of the paper, titled Towards a Speed of Light Internet, is devoted to finding out where the slowdowns are coming from. They found that the bulk of the delay comes from the latency of the underlying infrastructure, which works in a multiplicative way by affecting each step in the request. The second part of the paper proposes what turns out to be a relatively cheap and potentially doable solution to bring Internet speeds close to the speed of light for the vast majority of us. The authors propose creating a network that would connect major population centers using microwave networks.
Biotech

Genetically Engineered Yeast Makes It Possible To Brew Morphine 333

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-it-rise dept.
PvtVoid writes: The New York times reports that newly developed yeast strains will soon make it possible to create morphine from fermentation of sugar. While no one has claimed to make morphine in lab from scratch yet, concerns are already being raised about potential abuse. According to the Times article: "This rapid progress in synthetic biology has set off a debate about how — and whether — to regulate it. Dr. Oye and other experts said this week in a commentary in Nature Chemical Biology that drug-regulatory authorities are ill prepared to control a process that will benefit the heroin trade much more than the prescription painkiller industry. The world should take steps to head that off, they argue, by locking up the bioengineered yeast strains and restricting access to the DNA that would let drug cartels reproduce them.

Blessed be those who initiate lively discussions with the hopelessly mute, for they shall be known as Dentists.

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