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We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


+ - New Nudge Technology Prods You to Take Action

Submitted by (3830033) writes "Natasha Singer reports at the NYT on a new generation of devices whose primary function is to prod people to change. This new category of nudging technology includes “hydration reminder” apps like Waterlogged that exhort people to increase their water consumption; the HAPIfork, a utensil that vibrates and turns on a light indicator when people eat too quickly; and Thync, “neurosignaling” headgear that delivers electrical pulses intended to energize or relax people. “There is this dumbing-down, which assumes people do not want the data, they just want the devices to help them,” says Natasha Dow Schüll. “It is not really about self-knowledge anymore. It’s the nurselike application of technology.” While some self-zapping gizmos may resemble human cattle prods, other devices use more complex cues to encourage people to adopt new behavior. For example, the Muse, a brain-wave monitoring headband, is intended to help people understand their state of mind by playing different sounds depending on whether they are distracted or calm. “Based on what it registers, it plays loud, disruptive wind or waves lapping or, if you are supercalm and you maintain it for a while, you get calm, lovely noises of birds tweeting,” says Schüll. “You do learn to calm your mind.

But do the new self-tracking and self-improvement technologies benefit people or just create more anxiety? An article published in The BMJ, a British medical journal, describes healthy people who use self-tracking apps as “young, asymptomatic, middle-class neurotics continuously monitoring their vital signs while they sleep.” Dr. Des Spence argues that many health tracking apps encouraged healthy people to unnecessarily record their normal activities and vital signs — turning users into continuously self-monitoring “neurotics.” Spence recommends people view these new technologies with skepticism. “The truth is that these apps and devices are untested and unscientific, and they will open the door of uncertainty,” says Spence. “Make no mistake: Diagnostic uncertainty ignites extreme anxiety in people.”"

+ - K-12 CS Education Provider to Largest School Districts Eyes $200M in H-1B Fees

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Endorsed by the White House and bankrolled by tech's wealthiest individuals and their corporations, 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit has inked deals to bring K-12 computer science education to 7 of the largest US school districts. On Thursday, the group followed up on its earlier Congressional testimony, suggesting on Twitter and Tumblr that $200M in visa fees paid by its backers and others for H-1B workers be made available for CS education efforts. "With only 10% of all STEM graduates choosing to major in computer science," exclaimed in a blog post, "it’s no surprise the U.S. needs to bring in so many skilled workers from other countries!" Hey, it's also probably no surprise that many of's backers are also currently pressing for additional H-1B visas through Mark Zuckerberg's PAC and other entities!"

+ - Is iPhone's Lack of FM Support Increasing Your Chances of Dying in a Disaster?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""You may not know it," reports NPR's Emma Bowman, "but most of today's smartphones have FM radios inside of them. But the FM chip is not activated on two-thirds of devices. That's because mobile makers have the FM capability switched off. The National Association of Broadcasters has been asking mobile makers to change this. But the mobile industry, which profits from selling data to smartphone users, says that with the consumer's move toward mobile streaming apps, the demand for radio simply isn't there." But FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate says radio-enabled smartphones could sure come in handy during times of emergency. So, is it irresponsible not to activate the FM chips? And should it's-the-app-way-or-the-highway Apple follow Microsoft's lead and make no-static-at-all FM available on iPhones?"

+ - Poor Choices by US Kids Force Our Wealthy Donors to Hire H-1B Workers

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes ""With only 10% of all STEM graduates choosing to major in computer science," exclaims in a blog post, "it’s no surprise the U.S. needs to bring in so many skilled workers from other countries!", which is bankrolled by some of tech's wealthiest individuals and their companies, also took to Twitter to suggest that H-1B visas be used to raise $200 million for CS education, which the White House has coincidentally endorsed to provide. Speaking of coincidences, many of's donors are also backers of Mark Zuckerberg's H-1B hungry PAC. And that, kids, is the circle of lobbying life."

+ - The Upsides of a Surveillance Society

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Citing the comeuppance of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry, who was suspended from her job after her filmed ad-hominem attack on a person McHenry deemed to be beneath her in terms of appearance, education, wealth, class, status went viral, The Atlantic's Megan Garber writes that one silver lining of the omnipresence of cameras it that the possibility of exposure can also encourage us to be a little kinder to each other. "Terrible behavior," Garber writes, "whether cruel or violent or something in between, has a greater possibility than it ever has before of being exposed. Just as Uber tracks ratings for both its drivers and its users, and just as Yelp can be a source of shaming for businesses and customers alike, technology at large has afforded a reciprocity between people who, in a previous era, would have occupied different places on the spectrum of power. Which can, again, be a bad thing — but which can also, in McHenry's case, be an extremely beneficial one. It's good that her behavior has been exposed. It's good that her story going viral might discourage similar behavior from other people. It's good that she has publicly promised 'to learn from this mistake.'""

+ - LAUSD OKs Girls-Only STEM School, Plans Boys-Only English Language Arts School

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Citing statistics that showed a whopping 46 more boys than girls passed the AP Computer Science Exam in 2011-12, the 640,000+ student Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) on Tuesday approved a waiver to enable the District to operate a single-gender, all-girls STEM School called the Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA). Students in GALA will follow a six year sequence of computer courses starting in middle school that will culminate in AP Computer Science Principles. "Fewer females take AP courses in math, science, or computer science, and they are not as successful as males in receiving passing scores of 3, 4 or 5," argued the General Waiver Request (PDF, 700+ pages). "An all girls environment is reasonably necessary for the school to improve the self-confidence of girls in their academic abilities, especially in STEM areas where an achievement gap currently exists. GALA's admissions shall also comply with AB 1266 to ensure male students who identify as female are admitted to the school." The school's CS-related Partners include the UCLA Exploring Computer Science Program, as well as Google-bankrolled Girls Who Code, Black Girls Code, and NCWIT. One of the reasons the all-girls STEM school reportedly got the green light is that its backers satisfied federal regulations requiring a "substantially equal school" for excluded male students by submitting a plan for a companion all-boys school that would emphasize English Language Arts, where they often fall short of girls' test scores, rather than GALA's focus on STEM. One suspects the no-fan-of-gender-restricted-public-schools ACLU may call BS on this maneuver."

+ - US Dept. of Education Teams With Microsoft-Led on Teacher Diversity

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Citing a new study that suggests academic achievement can benefit when children are taught by a teacher of their own race, the New York Times asks, Where Are the Teachers of Color? Towards that end, the Times reports that ", a partnership between the Department of Education and several companies, teachers unions and other groups, is specifically targeting racial minorities for recruitment." While the NYT didn't think it fit to print, describes itself as a "public-private partnership led by Microsoft, State Farm and the U.S. Department of Education." To the consternation of some, the U.S. Dept. of Education delegated teacher recruitment to Microsoft in 2011. With its 2.2% African American/Black and 3.9% Latino/Hispanic tech workforce, who better to increase diversity than Microsoft, right?"

+ - Microsoft: When My Baby Taxes Me I Go To Reno

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "After stressing how important the funding of Washington State education — particularly CS Ed — is to Microsoft, Microsoft General Counsel, Director, and Major Contributor Brad Smith encountered one of those awkward interview moments (audio). GeekWire Radio: "So, would you ever consider ending that practice [ducking WA taxes by routing software licensing royalties through NV-based Microsoft Licensing, GP] in Nevada [to help improve WA education]?" Smith: "I think there are better ways for us to address the state's needs than that kind of step." Back in 2010, Smith, Steve Ballmer, and Microsoft Corporation joined forces to defeat Proposition I-1098, apparently deciding there were better ways to address the state's needs than a progressive income tax."

+ - U.S. Education Chief, Tech Giants Exploit Innumeracy to Advance K-12 CS Agenda

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Dismayed by how easily the press was misled into spinning low AP Computer Science exam participation in certain states as evidence of gender and racial inequity, Gas Station Without Pumps patiently explained in early 2014 that it is hardly surprising from a statistical standpoint that there are no female or black students test takers in a state if there are no test takers at all. Still, that didn't stop U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Thursday from citing the lack of female AP Computer Science test takers from WY, MT, MS, ND, and AK in 2013 as evidence of how America is still failing K-12 students when it comes to civil rights and equity of access to opportunity. Duncan's remarks (video), which came on the 50th anniversary of the passage of what's now known as the No Child Left Behind Act, parroted those made just days earlier by tech-bankrolled Fallacious as the argument may be, this and other sensational-but-innumerate factoids from the K-12-learn-to-code movement — e.g., "only about 10 percent of K-12 schools teach computer science" (how many students?), "25 states still don't allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation" (again, how many students?), "Students have participated in the Hour of Code 110,296,184 times" (what exactly does 'participated' mean?) — nonetheless resonated with lawmakers, who declared computer science a K-12 'core academic subject' in the just-rewritten No Child Left Behind Act, a victory that Duncan alluded to in his speech. Both Duncan and thanked Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) for the No Child Left Behind rewrite."

+ - Lies, Damn Lies, and the U.S. Secretary of Education's AP CS Statistics

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "On the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (aka No Children Left Behind), U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan oddly cited the lack of female AP Computer Science test takers in WY, MT, MS, ND, and AK in 2013 as his final example of how America is still failing K-12 students when it comes to civil rights and equity of access to opportunity. "Everyone here knows we cannot rest because we still have so far to go," said Duncan. "Why? Why do we have so much work ahead of us? Because today, a quarter of high schools with the highest percentage of African-American and Latino students do not offer Algebra II, and a third do not offer chemistry. Because today, about 40% of school districts do not offer preschool programs like the one that Star attends. Because today, we have far too many students of color, primarily boys, being suspended and expelled from school. And finally, because today, you can search five entire states and find only four girls in those states who took an AP computer science exam" (video). But as Gas Station Without Pumps explained more than a year ago, it is hardly surprising from a statistical standpoint that there are no female and black students test takers in a state if there are no test takers at all. So, where would late-to-the-CS-education-game Duncan get the idea to use such an outlandishly innumerate — some say misleading — argument? Perhaps from, the tech-bankrolled nonprofit that used the same argument to help get computer science declared a K-12 'core academic subject' (a long-time goal of Microsoft and Google) in the Senate draft of the just-rewritten No Child Left Behind Act, a victory that fan Duncan alluded to in his speech. Both Duncan and thanked Senator Patty Murray (WA) — a Microsoft fave whose donors include Microsoft execs and backers Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Brad Smith — for the No Child Left Behind rewrite."

+ - Senate Draft of No Child Left Behind Act Draft Makes CS a 'Core' Subject

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "If at first you don't succeed, lobby, lobby again. That's a lesson to be learned from Microsoft and Google, who in 2010 launched advocacy coalition Computing in the Core, which aimed "to strengthen K-12 computer science education and ensure that computer science is one of the core academic subjects that prepares students for jobs in our digital society." In 2013, Computing in the Core "merged" with, a new nonprofit led by the next door neighbor of Microsoft's General Counsel and funded by wealthy tech execs and their companies. When 'taught President Obama to code' in a widely-publicized White House event last December, visitor records indicate that Google, Microsoft, and execs had a sitdown immediately afterwards with the head of the NSF, and a Microsoft lobbyist in attendance returned to the White House the next day with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and General Counsel Brad Smith (who also sits on's Board) in tow. Looks like all of that hard work may finally pay off. Education Week reports that computer science has been quietly added to the list of disciplines defined as 'core academic subjects' in the Senate draft of the rewritten No Child Left Behind Act, a status that opens the doors to a number of funding opportunities. After expressing concern that his teenage daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he’d like, President Obama added, "I think they got started a little bit late. Part of what you want to do is introduce this with the ABCs and the colors." So, don't be too surprised if your little ones are soon focusing on the four R's — reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic, and Rapunzel — in school!"

+ - With H-1B Cap Hit, Zuckerberg and Ballmer-Led Groups Press for More Tech Visas

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "With the FY2016 H-1B visa cap reached in the first week of April (only the USCIS knows how many applications were submitted by outsourcing companies and from Bentonville, AR), it's no surprise that groups like Mark Zuckerberg's PAC and Steve Ballmer's Partnership for a New American Economy Action Fund are pooh-poohing Jesse Jackson's claims that foreign high-tech workers are taking American jobs, and promoting the idea that what's really holding back Americans from jobs is a lack of foreign tech workers with H-1B visas. What is kind of strange, though, is the photo of a young black male (his American job presumably created by high-skilled immigrants) that occupies most of the first page of the three-page H-1B Employment Effect "research brief" touted by the groups, which is identical to one that graces the website of a UK memory distributor, except it's been photoshopped from color to civil-rights-era-black-and-white to produce the H-1B Poster Child version. So, do America's tech billionaires need to be reminded that it's not cool to manipulate images to fake racial diversity?"

+ - Prosecutors Get an 'A' on Convictions of Atlanta Ed-Reform-Gone-Bad Test Cheats

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Just weeks after an L.A. Times op-ed called on public schools to emulate high-tech companies by paying high salaries to driven, talented employees whose productivity more than compensates for their high pay, the New York Times reported on the dramatic conclusion to perhaps the largest cheating scandal in the nation’s history, which saw a Judge order handcuffed Atlanta educators led off to jail immediately for their roles in a standardized test cheating scandal that raised broader questions about the role of high-stakes testing in American schools. Jurors convicted 11 of the 12 defendants — a mix of Atlanta public school teachers, testing coordinators and administrators — of racketeering, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sowed suspicion about the veracity of the test scores in 2009, and while investigators found that cheating was particularly ingrained in individual schools, they also said that the district’s top officials, including Superintendent Beverly L. Hall, bore some responsibility for creating "a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation" that had permitted "cheating — at all levels — to go unchecked for years." Officials said the cheating allowed employees to collect bonuses and helped improve the reputations of both Dr. Hall and the perpetually troubled school district. Dr. Hall, who died on March 2, insisted that she had done nothing wrong and that her approach to education, which emphasized data, was not to blame. But a Fulton County grand jury later accused her and 34 other district employees of being complicit in the cheating. Twenty-one reached plea agreements, and two defendants died before they could stand trial. Interestingly, in early 2010, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reported on how Hall and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation were bringing a "fair and transparent evaluation and support mechanism" to the Atlanta Public Schools. "We are excited to continue our [$23.6 million] partnership with APS and Dr. Hall," said Gates Foundation director of education Vicki L. Phillips. Five years earlier, in a 2005 Gates Foundation press release, Hall said, "We look forward to partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to take our reform efforts to the next level.""

+ - Stanford Turns to Pair Programming: 1 CS Education for the Price of 2?

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "Stanford students may pay $44,184 in tuition, but that may not even entitle them to individually graded homework. The Stanford Daily reports that this quarter, Stanford's Computer Science Department will implement 'pair programming' in the introductory computer science courses CS 106A: Programming Methodology and CS 106B: Programming Abstractions. "The purpose of this change," reports the paper, "is to reduce the increasingly demanding workload for section leaders due to high enrollment and also help students to develop important collaboration skills." The CS 106A Pair Programming Q&A page further explains, "Our enrollments have grown rapidly, and we are trying to explore creative new ways to manage student work that will also reduce the heavy workload on our section leaders," adding that students who don't get with the Pair Programming program and elect to go solo will not be awarded "late days" that can be used to avoid penalties on overdue assignments, unlike their paired classmates. Google in November put out an RFP to universities for its invite-only 3X in 3 Years: CS Capacity Award program, which aimed "to support faculty in finding innovative ways to address the capacity problem in their CS courses," which included a suggestion that "students that have some CS background" should not be allowed to attend in-person intro CS courses. Coincidentally, Google Director of Education and University Relations Maggie Johnson, whose name appeared on the CS Capacity RFP, was Director of Undergraduate Studies in Stanford's CS Department before joining Google."

Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.