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Submission + - Treat Computer Science as a Science: It's the Law!

theodp writes: Last week, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1020, the STEM Education Act of 2015, which expands the definition of STEM to include computer science for the purposes of carrying out education activities at the NSF, DOE, NASA, NOAA, NIST, and the EPA. The Bill was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Elizabeth Etsy (D-CT). Smith's February press release linked to letters of support from tech billionaire-backed Code.org (whose leadership includes Microsoft President Brad Smith), and the Microsoft-backed STEM Education Coalition (whose leadership includes Microsoft Director of Education Policy Allyson Knox). "The bipartisan #STEMEducation Act signed into law increases #CSEducation access," Microsoft DC tweeted Friday. "Thanks @RepEsty @LamarSmithTX21 for your leadership."

Submission + - There is No .bro in Brotli: Google/Mozilla Engineers Nix File Type as Offensive 1

theodp writes: Several weeks ago, Google launched Brotli, a new open source compression algorithm for the web. Since then, controversy broke out over the choice of 'bro' as the content encoding type. "We are hoping to establish a file ending .bro for brotli compressed files, a command line tool 'bro' for compressing and uncompressing brotli files, and a accept/content encoding type 'bro'," explained Google software engineer Jyrki Alakuijala. "Can I talk you out of it?," replied Mozilla SW engineer Patrick McManus. "'bro' has a gender problem, even though the dual meaning is unintentional. It comes of[f] misogynistic and unprofessional due to the world it lives in." Despite some pushback from commenters, a GitHub commit made by Google's Zoltan Szabadka shows that there will be no '.bro' in Brotli. "I have asked a feminist friend from the North American culture-sphere, and she advised against bro," explained Alakuijala. "We have found a compromise that satisfies us, so we don't need to discuss this further. Even if we don't understand why people are upset from our cultural standpoint, they would be (unnecessarily) upset and this is enough reason not to use it."

Submission + - Chicago Mayor Calls for National Computer Coding Requirement in Schools

theodp writes: On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on the federal government to make computer coding classes a requirement of high-school graduation (video). Back in December 2013, Emanuel — who previously served as President Obama's chief of staff — joined then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett (who had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Thursday) to announce a comprehensive K-12 computer science program for CPS students, including a partnership with then-nascent Code.org. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it probably bears mentioning that Illinois State Board of Elections records show that later that same month, Chicago for Rahm Emanuel received a $5,000 donation from ex-Microsoft CEO and $3+ million Code.org donor Steve Ballmer, and another $5,000 donation from Microsoft President and Code.org Board Member Brad Smith. In May of 2014, a partnership agreement was finally executed by CPS and Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi, who coincidentally jogs with Ballmer and lives next door to Smith.

Submission + - Google Helped Cause the Mysterious Increase in 911 Calls SF Asked it to Solve

theodp writes: Android users have long complained publicly that it's way too easy to accidentally dial 911. So it's pretty astonishing that it took a team of Google Researchers and San Francisco Department of Emergency Management government employees to figure out that butt-dialing was increasing the number of 911 calls. The Google 9-1-1 Team presented its results in How Googlers helped San Francisco Use Data Science to Understand a Surge in 911 Calls, a Google-sponsored presentation at the Code for America Summit, and in San Francisco’s 9-1-1 Call Volume Increase, an accompanying 26-page paper.

Submission + - Europe Code Week 2015: Cocktails at Microsoft, 'Ode to Code' Robot Dancing

theodp writes: In case your invite to next week's Europe Code Week 2015 kickoff celebration at the Microsoft Centre in Brussels was lost in the e-mail, you can apparently still invite yourself. "Let's meet to celebrate coding as an empowering competence, key for maintaining our society vibrant and securing the prosperity of our European digital economy," reads the invite at the Microsoft and Facebook-powered All you Need is Code website. And to "keep raising awareness of the importance of computational thinking beyond Code Week," EU Code Week is also running an Ode to Code Video Contest, asking people to make short YouTube videos showing how the event's Ode to Code soundtrack causes uncontrollable robot dancing and flash mobs. Things sure have changed since thirty years ago, when schoolchildren were provided with materials like The BASIC Book to foster computational thinking!

Submission + - Is Private Space Flight for the Wealthy Just a Scam? (theguardian.com) 1

The Real Dr John writes: The private space flight "industry", if you can call it that, is starting to sound more like a scam to get money from wealthy clients under the guise of sending them into space than a serious attempt to augment NASA's programs. The Guardian has an article about Virgin Galactic’s proposed launch site, Spaceport America, which broke ground in southern New Mexico’s high desert in 2009 with almost a quarter of a billion dollars from taxpayers, $76m of which came from the two local counties. Truth or Consequences, population 6,000 and home to the Spaceport America Visitor Center, is one of the poorest places in the state. The increased taxes, adopted across impoverished Sierra County, contributed to about $5m as of 2014. Since 2009, state school budgets have been cut and an estimated $26m in necessary repairs to the town’s water system has been put on hold. There’s no more money to pay for it. The average annual income of residents is just $15,000 per year, one third of residents live below the poverty line, and just 20% over the age of 25 have obtained a bachelor’s degree.

Comment Re:work only in english? (Score 1) 49

Go To Hell Statement Considered Harmful: "In our definition of an algorithm we have stressed that the primitive actions should be executable, that they should be done. "Go to the other side of the square." is perfectly acceptable, "Go to hell.", however, is not an algorithm but a curse, because it cannot be done."
--Edsger W. Dijkstra, 11 May 1930 - 6 August 2002


Ask Slashdot: Best Country For Secure Online Hosting? 113

An anonymous reader writes: I've recently discovered that my hosting company is sending all login credentials unencrypted, prompting me to change providers. Additionally, I'm finally being forced to put some of my personal media library (songs, photos, etc.) on-line for ready access (though for my personal consumption only) from multiple devices and locations... But I simply can't bring myself to trust any cloud-service provider. So while it's been partially asked before, it hasn't yet been answered: Which country has the best on-line personal privacy laws that would made it patently illegal for any actor, state, or otherwise, to access my information? And does anyone have a recommendation on which provider(s) are the best hosts for (legal) on-line storage there?

Stolen Patreon User Data Dumped On Internet 161

After the personal data breach at crowd-funding site Patreon reported a few days ago, there's some worse news: the information isn't just in limbo any more; Patreon reported Saturday that the compromised information has been leaked in the form of a massive data dump. (The slightly good news is that no credit card information was leaked.)

Submission + - Hour of Code Kicks Off in Chile with Dog Poop-Themed CS Tutorial

theodp writes: In an interesting contrast to the Disney princess-themed Hour of Code tutorial that 'taught President Obama to code' last December, Chile is kicking off its 2015 Hora del Codigo this week with a top-featured Blockly tutorial that teaches computer science by having kids drag-and-drop blocks of code to pick up dog poop. "Collect all the shit you have left your dog," reads the Google translated instructions for the final coding exercise. In its new video for the Hour of Code 2015 campaign, tech billionaire-backed Code.org notes that it's striving to reach 200 million schoolchildren worldwide by this December. Presumably towards that end, Code.org warns that it will penalize Computer Science tutorials that "work only in English."

Comment Re:What John King [and Bill Gates] did to NY Schoo (Score 1) 30

From Goodbye, Arne Duncan...Hello, John King:

Head of Class Size Matters, Leonie Haimson, had this to say upon his leaving:

"John King was the most unpopular commissioner in the history of NY State. He showed no respect for parents, teachers or student privacy. Ironically, he was intent on protecting his own privacy, and routinely withheld public documents; our Freedom of Information request of his communications with inBloom and the Gates foundation is more than 1 1/2 years overdue. His resignation is good news for New York state; hopefully he will be unable to do as much damage at the US Department of Education."

Sadly, as the new head of the US Department of Education, Dr. King will be in quite a position to do a lot of damage over the next 15 months.

Comment Re:Hypocrisy (Score 1) 30

John King Is Named New York State Education Commissioner: "Their two children, Amina, 7, and Mareya, 4, attend a Montessori school. Over the past two years, he has been courted for several prominent education leadership positions, including the superintendent's seat in Newark, by Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook executive who has pledged $100 million to that city's troubled schools. But Dr. King said he wanted to stay in New York because of his personal ties and his desire to finish what he started with Dr. Steiner. His salary will be $212,500, up from the $186,500 he earned as deputy, but, at his request, less than the $250,000 given to Dr. Steiner."

Comment What John King [and Bill Gates] did to NY Schools (Score 4, Informative) 30

What Arne Duncan's new senior adviser did to N.Y. schools:

"You'll see the rollout of a statewide data system that will give a lot more useful information to teachers and principals about student performance and a lot more useful data for policymakers."

In the above quote, King was referring to the implementation of inBloom, funded and created by the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. Its purpose was to amass an extraordinary amount of confidential student data with the intent of sharing it with private software developers to create personalized educational products. Despite public outcry, John King continued to support inBloom until the legislature stepped in and pulled the plug during the spring of 2014. Shortly thereafter, inBloom itself shut down.

You've been Berkeley'ed!