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+ - Following Obama's Coding Lesson, Microsoft and Google Met With NSF, White House

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "While scant on detail, White House Visitor Records released Friday show Microsoft and Google execs were slated to attend intimate meetings at the White House with the National Science Foundation and Obama administration officials in the hours after the tech industry-bankrolled 'taught the President to code' last December, perhaps the crowning event in the nonprofit's two-year effort to make the lack of CS education 'an issue like climate change'. According to White House records, NSF Chief France Córdova was scheduled to meet on Dec. 8th with CEO Hadi Partovi, Microsoft Chief Lobbyist Frederick Humphries, and Google Director of Education Maggie Johnson. And on Dec. 9th, Humphries was due back at the White House with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith. Smith, who sits on's Board (as does Google's Maggie Johnson), is coincidentally the next door neighbor of CEO Partovi, who in turn is an ex-Microsoft employee and occasional jogging partner of backer Steve Ballmer. While in DC, Nadella reportedly pitched the need for high-tech immigration reform, an issue that's also near-and-dear to Mark Zuckerberg's PAC, which counts many of the same wealthy backers as Microsoft's National Talent Strategy, introduced by Smith not long before and emerged on the scene, calls for "an increase in developing the American STEM pipeline in exchange for these new [H-1B] visas and green cards." The plan apparently struck a chord with the President, who, following his own coding lesson, expressed concern that his daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he’d like. "I think they got started a little bit late," the President said. "Part of what you want to do is introduce this with the ABCs and the colors.""

+ - NY Times: "All The News That Mark Zuckerberg Sees Fit To Print"?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Two years ago, Politico caught Mark Zuckerberg's soon-to-be launched PAC boasting how its wealthy tech exec backers would use their companies to 'control the avenues of distribution' for a political message in support of their efforts. Now, the NY Times is reporting that Facebook has been quietly holding talks with at least half a dozen media companies about hosting their content inside Facebook, citing a source who said the Times and Facebook are moving closer to a firm deal. Facebook declined to comment on specific discussions with publishers, but noted it had provided features to help publishers get better traction on Facebook, including tools unveiled in December that let them target their articles to specific groups of Facebook users. The new plan, notes the Times, is championed by Chris Cox, the top lieutenant to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and a "major supporter" of Exploring Facebook's wooing of the media giants, the Christian Science Monitor asks if social media will control the future of news, citing concerns expressed by Fusion's Felix Salmon, who warns that as news sites sacrifice their brands to reach a wider audience, their incentives for accuracy and editorial judgment will disappear. So, will the Gray Lady's iconic slogan be changed to "All The News That Mark Zuckerberg Sees Fit To Print"?"

+ - A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Now that we have hard data on everything, observes the NY Times' Virginia Heffernan in A Sucker Is Optimized Every Minute, we no longer make decisions from our hearts, guts or principles. "The gut is dead," writes Heffernan. "Long live the data, turned out day and night by our myriad computers and smart devices. Not that we trust the data, as we once trusted our guts. Instead, we 'optimize' it. We optimize for it. We optimize with it." To win Presidential elections. To turn web pages into Googlebait. To sucker people into registering for websites. Of the soon-to-arrive Apple Watch, Heffernan notes: "After time keeping, the watch’s chief feature is 'fitness tracking': It clocks and stores physiological data with the aim of getting you to observe and change your habits of sloth and gluttony. Evidently I wasn’t the only one whose thoughts turned to 20th-century despotism: The entrepreneur Anil Dash quipped on Twitter, albeit stretching the truth, 'Not since I.B.M. sold mainframes to the Nazis has a high-tech company embraced medical data at this scale.'""

+ - It Wasn't Tim Cook. So, Whose Liver Was Donated to Steve Jobs?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "A soon-to-be-released book on the late Steve Jobs reports that Jobs declined Tim Cook's offer of a portion of his liver for a transplant in January, 2009. Just two months later, as Walter Isaacson explained earlier in Jobs, a young man in his mid-twenties was killed in a car crash on the weekend of March 21, 2009, and his liver was made available for Jobs' transplant in Memphis. So, who was the mystery donor who gave Jobs two more years of life, arguably allowing Apple to become the most valuable company in history? He has never been identified in the press, although it would appear that Isaacson's account, assuming it's accurate, could be used in conjunction with data from the NHTSA's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and Google News to zero in on possibilities, should any of you sleuths want to have at it."

+ - Zuckerberg and Gates-Backed Startup Seeks to Shake Up African Education 1

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "The WSJ reports an army of teachers wielding Nook tablets and backed by investors including Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg is on a mission to bring cheap [$6.50/month], internet-based, private education to millions of the world's poorest children in Africa and Asia. In Kenya, 126,000 students are enrolled at 400+ Bridge International Academies that have sprung up across the country since the company was founded in 2009. Bridge’s founders are challenging the long-held assumption that governments rather than companies should lead mass education programs. The Nook tablets are used to deliver lesson plans used by teachers (aka "scripted instruction"), as well as to collect test results from students to monitor their progress."

+ - Life Imitates HBO Silicon Valley: and Girls Who Code's SXSW Party

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Just on the basis of often-parental advisory lyrics, one might think a rapper would be a dubious choice for a party co-sponsored by a Google-backed nonprofit that teaches middle-school girls to code. Still, that didn't deter tech billionaire-bankrolled and Girls Who Code from having rapper Kent M$ney as the featured entertainment for their co-sponsored "Innovation for America" Happy Hour at SXSW on Saturday. seemed pleased with the performance, although Instagram clips from Shiner's Saloon are more than a little reminiscent of Kid Rock's performance at a tech party on HBO's Silicon Valley."

+ - No Child Left Unspied On: Pearson Monitoring Social Media for Test References

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "As if people haven't found enough to hate about the new 11+ hour K-12 PARCC standardized testing (thank you, Bill Gates, may I have another!), the Washington Post reports that Pearson, the world’s largest education company, is monitoring social media during the administration of the PARCC Common Core test to detect any security breaches, saying it is "obligated" to alert authorities when any problems are discovered. The monitoring of social media was revealed in a message that a New Jersey School Superintendent sent to colleagues about a "Priority 1 Alert" initiated by Pearson in response to a student who referenced a PARCC test question in an after school Tweet. The news was broken in a blog entry by former NJ Star-Ledger reporter Bob Braun, who also posted the Superintendent's message and called the monitoring of social media nothing less than "spying." Pearson has a contract of more than $100 million to administer the PARCC in New Jersey."

+ - Straight Out of HBO Silicon Valley: and Girls Who Code's SXSW Happy Hour 2

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Remember that HBO Silicon Valley episode where Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates throw a conference after-party at a bar with a Google-backed nonprofit that teaches middle school and high school girls to code, and the drunk techies start shouting 'throw the work to the bitch' and other parental advisory lyrics along with the rapper who's performing? Wait, that never happened? Guess my imagination just ran away with me when after seeing rapper Kent M$ney tweet an invite to Saturday night's SXSW "Innovation for America" Happy Hour, which is sponsored by Zuck's PAC and Girls Who Code."

Comment: Re:This is good (Score 1) 44

by theodp (#49233311) Attached to: edX Welcomes 'The University of Microsoft' Into Its Fold

Yes, as edX notes, this is an anomaly, but it isn't really clear to me what prompted the decision. Are they opening up edX to all corporations and vocational training? Do they feel PowerPoint is the future of open source-based education frameworks? Was any money or other consideration involved? ...

+ - edX Welcomes 'The University of Microsoft' into its Fold

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""At edX," explains the upscale MOOC founded by MIT and Harvard, "we believe in offering the highest quality courses, created by schools and partners who share our commitment to excellence in teaching and learning, both online and in the classroom." You know, like Building Cloud Apps with Microsoft Azure (course trailer). On Tuesday, edX welcomed Microsoft as its first corporate member to offer MOOCs on "Through this program," said edX, "Microsoft will offer the edX global learning community courses to acquire the core development skills needed to be successful in the cloud-first, mobile-first world." The new initiative, explained Microsoft, expands upon an existing Microsoft partnership with edX to create interactive online courses using Office Mix and PowerPoint 2013. Classes start March 31st, kids!"

+ - Univ. of WA: Opponents of K-12 CS Bill "Same People Who Don't Like Puppies"

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Led by Washington State income tax killer Steve Ballmer, dozens of tech, education & nonprofit execs urged passage of a WA computer science education bill, calling for millions in state spending to help prepare K-12 kids for tech jobs. In a signed letter and full-page Seattle Times ad lobbying lawmakers to pass House Bill 1813, representatives from Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and tech-bankrolled suggested WA State ante up $1 million-a-year for starters, saying "Let's give a united answer to the parent who asks, 'Why doesn’t my child’s school teach computer science?'" Hey, why not tell them it's because Ballmer dodged a possible $180M in state taxes on a planned $2B Microsoft stock sale that could have been used for CS education instead of enriching Donald Sterling! By the way, the University of Washington — on whose behalf representatives of Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and (including some WA state income tax opponents) coincidentally recently penned a letter pressuring WA lawmakers to fund a new $110M CS building — notes that HB 1813 went on to pass the WA House 91-7. "We don’t know who the 7 were," quipped the UW, "but it’s presumably the same folks who don’t like puppies." No word if that includes the WA State Superintendent of Public Instruction, who in public testimony on HB 1813 pushed back on Microsoft and's call for girls-first CS education, challenging advocates of "computer science for all" to instead put their tax money where their mouths are and support full funding of, well, statewide K-12 CS for ALL, if it's indeed all that important."

Is your job running? You'd better go catch it!