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Submission + - Bing vs Google, Easter Edition 2

theodp writes: Google is big on Easter eggs, but you won't find any on its home page today. Slate's Matthew Yglesias Bings-it-On on Easter Sunday, taking note of Google's decision to commemorate Easter as the birthday of Latino labor leader Cesar Chavez in today's Google Doodle, while Microsoft's Bing went with an Easter-themed secular graphic of Easter eggs for its home page (side-by-side comparison). 'The doodles are, obviously, not significant in and of themselves,' Yglesias writes. 'But Google's ability to indulge the whims of its staff rather than cater to mass opinion on them is a highly visible signpost of its extremely strong market position. The same phenomenon is why it can plow search-related operating surpluses into speculative ventures from Android to Glass to self-driving cars.'

Submission + - BlackBerry, Google Both Big Fans of Tame Impala

theodp writes: Checking in at #3 in Kevin Kaduk's list of most annoying NCAA tournament commercials was the BlackBerry Z10 'Keep Moving' Commercial. 'This commercial is on the list less for its product or message and more for its song, which is 'Elephant' by Tame Impala,' writes Kaduk. 'It's not a bad little tune until you realize you liked it better when it was called 'Spirit In The Sky' by Norman Greenbaum.' Oh, and you may also realize you liked the tune better when Google used 'Elephant' to promote Google Glass just a few short months ago. Back in the day, Bill Gates and his Win95 dance crew were lucky that Rolling Stones fan Steve Jobs hadn't yet returned to Apple, so they had 'Start Me Up' all to themselves.

Submission + - Documentary Serving Multiple Agendas?

theodp writes: 'Someday, and that day may never come,' Don Corleone says famously in The Godfather, 'I'll call upon you to do a service for me.' Back in 2010, filmmaker Lesley Chilcott produced Waiting for "Superman", a controversial 2010 documentary film that analyzed the failures of the American public education system, and presented charter schools as a glimmer of hope, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-backed KIPP Los Angeles Prep. Gates himself was a "Superman" cast member, show here in a clip that laments how U.S. public schools are producing 'American Idiots' of no use to high tech firms like Microsoft, forcing them to 'go half-way around the world to recruit the engineers and programmers they needed.' So some found it strange that when Chilcott teamed up with Gates again three years later to make's documentary short What Most Schools Don't Teach, kids from KIPP Empower Academy were called upon to demonstrate that U.S. schoolchildren are still clueless about what computer programmers do. In a nice coincidence, the film went viral just as leaders of Google, Microsoft, and Facebook pressed President Obama and Congress on immigration reform, citing a dearth of U.S. programming talent. And speaking of coincidences, the lone teacher in the film (James, Teacher@Mount View Elementary), whose classroom was tapped by as a model for the nation's schools, is Seattle teacher Jamie Ewing, who took top honors in Microsoft’s Partners in Learning (PiL) U.S. Forum last summer, earning him a spot on PiL's 'Team USA' and the chance to showcase his project at the Microsoft PiL Global Forum in Prague in November (82-page Conference Guide). Ironically, had Ewing stuck to teaching the kids Scratch programming, as he's shown doing in the documentary, Microsoft wouldn't have seen fit to send him to its blowout at 'absolutely amazingly beautiful' Prague Castle. Innovative teaching, at least according to Microsoft's rules, 'must include the use of one or more Microsoft technologies.' Fortunately, Ewing's project — described in his MSDN guest blog post — called for using PowerPoint and Skype. For the curious, here's Microsoft PiL's vision of what a classroom should be.

Submission + - Google's Punishment? Lecture Those They Snooped On

theodp writes: When Aaron Swartz tapped into MIT's network and scooped up data from one non-profit company, the U.S. Attorney threatened him with 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine. So what kind of jail time did 38 Attorneys General threaten Google with for using its Street View cars to scoop up passwords, e-mail and other personal information by tapping into the networks of their states' unsuspecting citizens? None. In agreeing to settle the case, the NY Times reports, Google is required to police its own employees on privacy issues, lecture the public on how to fend off privacy violations like the one Google perpetrated, and forfeit about 20% of one day's net income. Given the chance, one imagines that Aaron Swartz would have happily jumped at a comparable deal.

Submission + - Google Seeks Patent on Searching Your Belongings

theodp writes: With its patent-pending System and Method for Searching Belongings Using Social Graph Information, Google could make needing a warrant to search someone's belongings a thing of the past. 'In one aspect,' Google explains, 'the user may desire to search for all belongings including his/her own belongings, or alternatively, may wish to only search for belongings of other users of the system.' What kind of belongings? Describing the example provided in Fig. 7, Google says, 'More specifically, user 1 is associated with user 2, user 4 and user 5. Furthermore, User 1 is associated with belongings including "Camera A", "Tablet A", "Mobile Phone" and "Laptop C". User 2 is illustrated as being associated with user 1, user 3 and user 5, and with belongings including "SKIS" and "MOBILE A". User 3 is illustrated as being associated with user 2 and user 4, and further with belongings including "CAR B", "BOOK C" and "JACKET S". User 4 is illustrated as associate with user 1 and user 3 and belongings including "TV A" and "My Kix". Finally, User 5 is illustrated as being associated with user 1 and user 2 and with belongings including "TABLET A" and "SUNGLASSES A".'

Submission + - Microsoft: The 'Scroogled' Show Must Go On

theodp writes: Microsoft says that the death of its 'Scroogled' ad campaign against Google has been greatly exaggerated. 'Scroogled will go on as long as Google keeps Scroogling people,' said a Microsoft spokesperson. 'Nearly 115,000 people signed a petition asking Google to stop going through their Gmail.' So, is Microsoft's scare campaign justified? Well, in a recently-published patent application for a Method and System for Dynamic Textual Ad Distribution Via Email, Google explains how its invention can be used to milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms, which might make some uneasy. Google also illustrates how advertisers can bid on access to those suffering from breast cancer, bi-polar disorder, depression, and panic anxiety. Hey, what could possibly go wrong?

Submission + - Google Email Patent Scarier Than 'Scroogled' Ads?

theodp writes: If Microsoft really wants to scare Gmail users, perhaps they should drop the Scroogled! campaign and simply post Google patent applications. Take Google's patent application for its Method and System for Dynamic Textual Ad Distribution Via Email, for instance, in which Google provides an example of how they can milk more money from advertisers by identifying lactating Moms. 'An end-user accessing documents related to breast feeding,' Google notes, 'is more likely to be in the market for a breast pump than any given end-user accessing pregnancy, in the mind of the advertiser. Thus, the advertising user has bid more to achieve the first position in that breast feeding document level.' Along the same lines, an accompanying diagram illustrates how Google's invention allows advertisers to also bid on access to those suffering from breast cancer, bi-polar disorder, depression, and panic anxiety. Hey, what could possibly go wrong?

Submission + - Will Apple Get Over Its 'Laptop Haphephobia'?

theodp writes: Ridiculed as a very uncool Microsoft thing by Apple CEOs Steve Jobs and Tim Cook, the idea of touchscreens on laptops and desktops got a major boost this week from cool kid Google, who essentially called BS on 'Gorilla Arm Syndrome' FUD with the introduction of its high-end Pixel Chromebook. So, with Google Pixel validating Microsoft's touch strategy, will Apple be forced to get over its 'laptop haphephobia' and join the c'mon-c'mon-c'mon-c'mon-now-touch-me laptop club? Hey, 'vertical touch' could yet become a 50-year-old 'overnight' success!

Submission + - Google Patents Staple of '70s Mainframe Computing 2

theodp writes: 'The lack of interest, the disdain for history is what makes computing not-quite-a-field,' Alan Kay once lamented. And so it should come as no surprise that the USPTO granted Google a patent Tuesday for the Automatic Deletion of Temporary Files, perhaps unaware that the search giant's claimed invention is essentially a somewhat kludgy variation on file expiration processing, a staple of circa-1970 IBM mainframe computing and subsequent disk management software. From Google's 2013 patent: 'A path name for a file system directory can be "C:temp\12-1-1999\" to indicate that files contained within the file system directory will expire on Dec. 1, 1999.' From Judith Rattenbury's 1971 Introduction to the IBM 360 computer and OS/JCL : 'EXPDT=70365 With this expiration date specified, the data set will not be scratched or overwritten without special operator action until the 365th day of 1970.' Hey, things are new if you've never seen them before!

Submission + - Tech Companies That Pay Interns Boatloads Of Money

theodp writes: For those students for whom it's all about the Benjamins, BusinessInsider's Alyson Shontell has compiled a nice list of 20 Tech Companies That Pay Interns Boatloads Of Money. 'If you intern for a high-profile tech company,' notes Shontell, 'you can make more money than the average US citizen. Facebook, for example, pays its average intern $6,056 per month. That ends up being a base salary of about $72,000 per year.' Sure beats making a 'measly' $5,808 per month at LinkedIn, where you might find yourself having to participate in embarrassing sing-a-longs ("Get A Pro Account Tonight") and Flash Mobs!

Submission + - Tech Firms Keep Piles of 'Foreign Cash' in US

theodp writes: 'There's a funny thing about the estimated $1.7 trillion that American companies say they have indefinitely invested overseas,' reports the WSJ's Kate Linebaugh (reg. or the old Google trick). 'A lot of it is actually sitting right here at home.' And if tech companies like Google and Microsoft want to keep more than three-quarters of the cash owned by their foreign subsidiaries at U.S. banks, held in U.S. dollars or parked in U.S. government and corporate securities, Linebaugh explains, this money is still overseas in the eyes of the IRS and isn't taxed as long as it doesn't flow back to the U.S. parent company. Helping corporations avoid the need to tap their foreign-held cash are low interest rates at home, which have allowed U.S. companies to borrow cheaply. Oracle, for instance, raised $5 billion last year, paying an interest rate roughly two-thirds of a percentage point above the low post-crash Treasury yield, about 2.5% at the time (by contrast, grad students and parents pay 6.8%-7.9% for Federal student loans). Were the funds it manages to keep in the hands of its foreign subsidiaries brought home and subjected to U.S. income tax, Oracle estimated it could owe Uncle Sam about $6.3 billion.

Submission + - Bill Ayers Calls 'Teach for America' a Fraud

theodp writes: Fox News is up-in-arms again over Bill Ayers, this time for calling Teach for America a 'fraud' whose participants are nothing but 'educational tourists'. Ayers suggests the program's young grads are merely passing through the gritty neighborhoods where they serve to pad their resumes at the expense of longer-term educators. As Ayers notes, his complaints about TFA echo those leveled by The Onion at the program's idealistic-but-sometimes-here-today-gone-tomorrow teachers. According to Teach for America, just north of 7,000 of the 24,000 teachers it has deployed since its inception were still teaching as of 2011. Teach for America enjoys the generous financial support of would-be education reformer billionaires (e.g., Gates, Dell, Bezos, Murdoch), their corporations, and tax-exempt foundations.

Submission + - Want a Job at Google? Better Know Microsoft Office!

theodp writes: After recent Slashdot discussions on Google's quest to unseat Microsoft Office in business and whether Google Docs and MS-Word are an even matchup, let's complete the trilogy by bringing up the inconvenient truth that numerous Google job postings state that candidates with Microsoft Office expertise are 'preferred' to those lacking these skills. 'For example,' notes GeekWire, 'when hiring an executive compensation analyst to support Google's board, the company will give preference to candidates who are 'proficient with Microsoft Excel."' Parents and kids at schools that have gone or are going Google are reassured that, 'it is more important to teach technology skills than specific programs' and that 'Google itself uses Google Apps to run its multi-billion dollar company.' Which, for the most part, is true. Just don't count on getting certain Google jobs with that attitude, kids!

Submission + - Does Computer Science Education Week Matter?

theodp writes: Nothing gets the kids jazzed about Computer Science like a black-and-white photo of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper sitting at the console of a UNIVAC I, like the one that "graced" the home page of the website for the just-concluded Computer Science Education Week, right? And kids will no doubt be inspired by a visit to CSEdWeek's YouTube site, where the two videos posted this year have thus far generated a combined 161 views (take that, Psy!), right? With CSEdWeek partners like Google, Oracle, and Microsoft lamenting the 'tragic' state of CS education, would their efforts and dollars be better spent on other ways of bringing coding skills to the masses than on year-after-year of CSEdWeek handwaving? How about funding an online Udacity CS course for the younger set that implements some of Bret Victor's game-changing concepts?

Submission + - Google+ Chief Grounded from Twitter by Larry Page 2

theodp writes: Vic Gundotra, formerly Sr. VP of Social (and now, of Engineering) at Google, and head of the company’s social networking service Google+, hasn’t posted anything on his Twitter account since July 2011. Why? Responding to a question about his own social networking behavior at SMX 2012, Gundotra explained that he was asked by Google CEO Larry Page not to tweet anymore. 'I was asked not to tweet again.' Gundotra said (video). 'I was asked not to do that by my boss [Page]. I tweeted a tweet about two companies [Microsoft, Nokia] that went viral, went very very viral and made a lot of headline news.' So, what does it say when the Google CEO who reportedly tied all Googlers' bonuses to social networking apparently finds it too dangerous to permit the head of Google+ to participate in social networking?

Intel CPUs are not defective, they just act that way. -- Henry Spencer