Don't doubt they're concerned about the environment, but Google also has a financial stake in energy. From Google Reaps Tax Breaks in $1.4 Billion Clean Energy Bet: "The Galt solar farm, 20 miles south of Sacramento, is one of 15 alternative-energy projects that Google has funded since 2010 as part of a more than $1.4 billion investment in clean power production. That makes the Internet search giant the biggest backer of U.S. alternative-energy projects over that stretch, excluding financial institutions and utilities, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance."
theodp (442580) writes ""The government is not the only American power whose motivations need to be rigourously examined," writes The Telegraph's Katherine Rushton. "Some 2,400 miles away from Washington, in Silicon Valley, Google is aggressively gaining power with little to keep it in check. It has cosied up to governments around the world so effectively that its chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a White House advisor. In Britain, its executives meet with ministers more than almost any other corporation. Google can't be blamed for this: one of its jobs is to lobby for laws that benefit its shareholders, but it is up to governments to push back. As things stand, Google — and to a lesser extent, Facebook — are in danger of becoming the architects of the law." Schmidt, by the way, is apparently interested in influencing at least two current hot-button White House issues. Joined by execs from Apple, Oracle, and Facebook, the Google Chairman asserted in a March letter to Secretary of State John Kerry that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is not in the economic interests of the U.S.; the Obama administration on Friday extended the review period on the pipeline, perhaps until after the Nov. 4 congressional elections. And as a "Major Contributor" to Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us PAC, Schmidt is also helping to shape public opinion on the White House's call for immigration reform; FWD.us just launched new attack ads (videos) and a petition aimed at immigration reform opponent Rep. Steve King. In Dave Eggers' The Circle, politicians who impede the company execs' agenda are immediately brought down. But that's fiction, right?"
bennyboy64 (1437419) writes "IT security industry experts are beginning to turn on Google and OpenSSL, questioning whether the Heartbleed bug was disclosed "responsibly". A number of selective leaks to Facebook, Akamai and CloudFlare occurred prior to disclosure on April 7. A separate, informal pre-notification program run by Red Hat on behalf OpenSSL to Linux and Unix operating system distributions also occurred. But router manufactures and VPN appliance makers Cisco and Juniper had no heads up. Nor did large web entities such as Amazon Web Services, Twitter, Yahoo, Tumblr and GoDaddy, just to name a few. The Sydney Morning Herald has spoken to many people who think Google should've told OpenSSL as soon as it uncovered the critical OpenSSL bug in March, and not as late as it did on April 1. The National Cyber Security Centre Finland (NCSC-FI), which reported the bug to OpenSSL after Google, on April 7, which spurred the rushed public disclosure by OpenSSL, also thinks it was handled incorrectly. Jussi Eronen, of NCSC-FI, said Heartbleed should have continued to remain a secret and be shared only in security circles when OpenSSL received a second bug report from the Finnish cyber security centre that it was passing on from security testing firm Codenomicon. "This would have minimised the exposure to the vulnerability for end users," Mr Eronen said, adding that "many websites would already have patched" by the time it was made public if this procedure was followed."
theodp (442580) writes ""As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of the Brown decision," writes the New Yorker's Jelani Cobb in The Failure of Desegregation, "the landmark case seems, in hindsight, like a qualified victory. Racially homogenous schools remain a fact of American life." And the resegregation of schools isn't limited to the Deep South. In the New York City public-school system, Cobb notes, Black and Latino students have become more likely to attend schools with minimal white enrollment, and a majority go to schools defined by concentrated poverty. And, despite the backing of Bill Gates and other like-minded super-wealthy tech "education investors", charter schools are no panacea for integration's failures. "Three-quarters of the city’s charter schools, which were a key component of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's efforts at education reform," writes Cobb, "have fewer than one per cent white enrollment," which UCLA's Civil Rights Project terms "apartheid schools". And at KIPP Schools, a darling of Gates, Netflix's Reed Hastings, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, "more than 86 percent of our students are from low-income families and eligible for the federal free or reduced-price meals program, and 95 percent are African American or Latino.' So, would Bill send his own kids to a charter school? 'A family like mine should not use up the inner-city capacity of these great schools,' Gates explained, 'but if by some happenstance, my kids had to go to KIPP schools [instead of, say, BillG's alma mater], I wouldn't feel bad at all.' So, while well-intentioned, are tech's billionaire education reformers inadvertently contributing to today's separate-but-equal revival?"
theodp (442580) writes "As Google Glass goes on sale to the general public, GeekWire reports that Bill Gates has already snagged one patent for 'detecting and responding to an intruding camera' and has another in the works. The invention proposes to equip computer and device displays with technology for detecting and responding to any cameras in the vicinity by editing or blurring the content on the screen, or alerting the user to the presence of the camera. Gates and Nathan Myhrvold are among the 16 co-inventors of the so-called Unauthorized Viewer Detection System and Method, which the patent application notes is useful "while a user is taking public transportation, where intruding cameras are likely to be present." So, is Bill's patent muse none other than NYC subway rider Sergey Brin?"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jenny McCarthy is claiming she has been misunderstood and is not anti-vaccine. In an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, McCarthy tries to ignore everything she’s been saying about vaccines for years and wipe the record clean. “People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines,” McCarthy told Time magazine science editor Jeffrey Kluger in 2009. “Please understand that we are not an anti-vaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins.” But Kluger points out that McCarthy left the last line out of that quotation: "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f--king measles." That missing line rather changes the tone of her position considerably, writes Phil Plait and is a difficult stance to square with someone who is not anti-vaccine. As Kluger points out, her entire premise is false; since vaccines don’t cause autism, no one has to make the choice between measles (and other preventable, dangerous diseases) and autism." Something else McCarthy omitted from her interview with Kluger: "I do believe sadly it’s going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe," said McCarthy. "If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it’s their f*cking fault that the diseases are coming back. They’re making a product that’s sh*t. If you give us a safe vaccine, we’ll use it. It shouldn’t be polio versus autism." Kluger finishes with this: "Jenny, as outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough continue to appear in the U.S.—most the result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of the scare stories passed around by anti-vaxxers like you—it’s just too late to play cute with the things you’ve said. " For many years McCarthy has gone on and on and on and on and on and on about vaccines and autism. "She can claim all she wants that she’s not anti-vax," concludes Plait, "but her own words show her to be wrong.""
theodp (442580) writes ""What's Wrong With This Picture?" Code.org asks of an infographic that suggests 1.4 million jobs await U.S. kids who are willing to study Computer Science. But next to the infographic is a Code.org Tweet lamenting the annual cap of 85,000 H-1B visas (certain organizations are exempt from the cap) that is limiting the number of international job-seekers who can come to the U.S. to fill these jobs. The linked-to article reports that the head of FWD.us, the PAC founded by Code.org backers Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, "lambasted current law regarding the cap structure of high-skill visas in an email to TechCrunch, calling the current set of regulations 'dysfunctional.' He went on to state that it is 'absolutely critical that House Republicans take action on immigration reform now to do right by American families and boost the American economy.'" Further muddying the CS job estimate waters, FWD.us cites an example elsewhere on its site that upping the cap would enable H-1B workers to fill 18,000 STEM jobs in South Dakota, perhaps some of the same jobs that are presented as job opportunities for SD kids at Code.org. While it jibes nicely with FWD.us's call for high-tech immigration reform and Microsoft's National Talent Strategy (the groups share many common supporters), could Code.org's advocacy for more H-1B visas raise concerns about future computer science job prospects, possibly discouraging CS study by U.S. kids?"
theodp (442580) writes "Code.org is certainly sending out mixed signals to visitors to its What's Wrong With This Picture? page. Next to an infographic that promises a bottomless-cup-of-Computer-Science-jobs to U.S. kids is a Twitter feed with a Code.org Tweet lamenting a cap on H-1B visas that prevents international job-seekers from filling these jobs. In the linked-to article, TechCrunch reports that the head of FWD.us — the PAC founded by Code.org supporters and "CS teachers" Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates — "lambasted current law regarding the cap structure of [H-1B] high-skill visas in an email to TechCrunch, calling the current set of regulations 'dysfunctional.' He went on to state that it is 'absolutely critical that House Republicans take action on immigration reform now to do right by American families and boost the American economy.'" Elsewhere on its site, FWD.us suggests H-1B workers as the answer to filling 18,000 STEM jobs in South Dakota (due to the state's inability to produce a skilled workforce). It's unclear if some of those jobs are also counted as job opportunities for SD kids in Code.org's infographic. So, in the long run, could Code.org's advocacy for more H-1B visas, while it aligns nicely with FWD.us (common supporters of both organizations), actually wind up discouraging CS study by U.S. kids?"
theodp (442580) writes "On Friday, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston sought to quell the uproar over the appointment of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the company's board of directors, promising in a blog post that Rice's appointment won't change its stance on privacy. More interesting than Houston's brief blog post on the method-behind-its-Condi-madness (which Dave Winer perhaps better explained a day earlier) is the firestorm in the ever-growing hundreds of comments that follow. So will Dropbox be swayed by the anti-Condi crowd ("If you do not eliminate Rice from your board you lose my business") or stand its ground, heartened by pro-Condi comments ("Good on ya, DB. You have my continued business and even greater admiration")? One imagines that Bush White House experience has left Condi pretty thick-skinned, and IPO riches are presumably on the horizon, but is falling on her "resignation sword" — a la Brendan Eich — out of the question for Condi?"
theodp (442580) writes "Gigaom reports tbat while speaking at the Bloomberg Energy Summit on Wednesday, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he gives "a lot of money to the Sierra Club" to help close dirty coal plants, but added that as a society we have to "have some compassion to do it gently." Subsidies to help displaced workers are one option, said Bloomberg, while retraining is another option. But, in a slight to the tech industry's sometimes out-of-touch nature with workers outside of Silicon Valley, he said retraining needs to be realistic, "You're not going to teach a coal miner to code", argued Bloomberg. "Mark Zuckerberg says you teach them to code and everything will be great. I don't know how to break it to you
theodp (442580) writes ""Public school teachers," reads the headline at Khan Academy (KA), "introduce your students to coding and earn $1000 or more for your classroom!" Read the fine print, however, and you'll see that the Google-bankrolled offer is likely to ensure that girls, not boys, are going to be their Computer Science teachers' pets. "Google wants public high school students, especially girls, to discover the magic of coding," KA explains to teachers. "You'll receive a $100 DonorsChoose.org gift code for every female student who completes the [JS 101: Drawing & Animation] course. When 4 or more female students complete it, we'll email you an additional $500 gift code as a thank-you for helping your students learn to code." While "one teacher cannot have more than 20 of the $100 gift codes activated on their DonorsChoose.org projects," adds KA, "if the teacher has more than 20 female students complete the curriculum, s/he will still be sent gift codes, and the teacher can use the additional gift codes on another teacher’s DonorsChoose.org project." So, is girls-are-golden-boys-are-worthless funding for teachers' projects incongruent with Khan Academy's other initiatives, such as its exclusive partnership with CollegeBoard to eliminate inequality among students studying for the SAT?"
I'm sure the late John Kemeny, sbown hire watching daughter Jennifer write a BASIC program, would approve!
theodp (442580) writes "Still hanging on to a dog-eared copy of BASIC Computer Games? Back issues of Creative Computing? Well then, Bunky, mark your calendar for April 30th, because Dartmouth College is throwing BASIC a 50th birthday party that you won't want to miss! From the "invite" to BASIC at 50: "At 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, in the basement of College Hall, Professor John Kemeny and a student programmer simultaneously typed RUN on neighboring terminals. When they both got back correct answers to their simple programs, time-sharing and BASIC were born. Kemeny, who later became Dartmouth's 13th president, Professor Tom Kurtz, and a number of undergraduate students worked together to revolutionize computing with the introduction of time-sharing and the BASIC programming language. Their innovations made computing accessible to all Dartmouth students and faculty, and soon after, to people across the nation and the world [video — young Bill Gates cameo @2:18]. This year, Dartmouth is celebrating 50 years of BASIC with a day of events on Wednesday, April 30. Please join us as we recognize the enduring impact of BASIC, showcase innovation in computing at Dartmouth today, and imagine what the next 50 years may hold." Be sure to check out the vintage photos on Flickr to see what real cloud computing looks like, kids!"
theodp (442580) writes "While the rise and fall of Brendan Eich at Mozilla sparked a debate over how to properly strike a balance between an employee's political free speech and his employer's desire to communicate a particular corporate 'culture,' notes Brian Van Vleck at the California Workforce Resource Blog, the California Labor Code has already resolved this debate. "Under California law," Van Vleck explains, "it is blatantly illegal to fire an employee because he has donated money to a political campaign. This rule is clearly set forth in Labor Code sections 1101-1102". Section 1102 begins, "No employer shall coerce or influence or attempt to coerce or influence his employees through or by means of threat of discharge or loss of employment to adopt or follow or refrain from adopting or following any particular course or line of political action or political activity." Corporate Counsel's Marlisse Silver Sweeney adds, "Mozilla is adamant that the board did not force Eich to resign, and asked him to stay on in another role. It also says that although some employees tweeted for his resignation, support for his leadership was expressed by a larger group of employees. And this is all a good thing for the company from a legal standpoint." As Eich stepped down, Re/code reported that Mozilla Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker said Eich's ability to lead the company had been badly damaged by the continued scrutiny over the hot-button issue. "It's clear that Brendan cannot lead Mozilla in this setting," Baker was quoted as saying. "I think there has been pressure from all sides, of course, but this is Brendan's decision. Given the circumstances, this is not surprising." Van Vleck offers these closing words of advice, "To the extent employers want to follow in Mozilla's footsteps by policing their employees' politics in the interests of 'culture,' 'inclusiveness,' or corporate branding, they should be aware that their efforts will violate California law.""
theodp (442580) writes "GeekWire reports that a Microsoft researcher's 1991 video could torpedo Apple’s key "slide to unlock" patent, one of 5 patents that the iPhone maker cited in its demand for $40 per Samsung phone. Confronted with what appears to be damning video evidence of prior art that pre-dates its "invention" by more than a decade, Apple has reportedly arguied that the sliding on/off switch demoed by Catherine Plaisant is materially different than the slide to unlock switch that its 7 inventors came up with. Apple's patent has already been deemed invalid in Europe because of similar functionality present in the Swedish Neonode N1M."