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Microsoft

Submission + - In Soviet Russia, Bing Searches You!

theodp writes: A newly surfaced Microsoft patent application, reports GeekWire, describes a 'user-following engine' that analyzes your posts on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to deduce your mood, interests, and even your smarts. The system would then automatically adjust the search experience and results to better match those characteristics, explains Microsoft, such as changing the background color of the search interface to suit your mood, or bringing back only those search results that won't strain your feeble brain. From the patent application: 'In addition to skewing the search results to the user’s inferred interests, the user-following engine may further tailor the search results to a user’s comprehension level. For example, an intelligent processing module may be directed to discerning the sophistication and education level of the posts of a user. Based on that inference, the customization engine may vary the sophistication level of the customized search result.' So, is this the same technology the Microsoft Store used to determine I'd need a $49-an-hour Microsoft "personal trainer" to grasp Windows Live Photo Gallery, the same software that 4-and-a-half year-old Kylie mastered on her own?
Open Source

Submission + - Scientists Can Recreate Brain 'Flow' State in Lab; You too, soon (fellowgeek.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: A small software startup called “GoFlow”, a company that is making a DIY opensource kit for tDCS. tDCS, in case you are wondering, stands for “transcranial Direct Current Stimulation".
Tennis players report it, expert video game players know it well. It is a state in which you are utterly focused on the task, one in which you learn faster and perform better. All with the flip of a switch.

GoFlow is attempting to build a $99.00 device that can be comfortably worn while doing whatever it is you do...

Toys

Submission + - LEGO is in trouble with feminists (foxnews.com)

Bravoc writes: "The new “LEGO Friends” rolled out in December featuring LadyFigs, curvier takeoffs on the traditional boxy LEGO men. Construction sets include a hot tub, a splash pool, a beauty parlor, an outdoor bakery and a “cool convertible," as well as an inventor's workshop.
But the SPARK Movement objects to the "LadyFigs," the female version of the little figures who man the spaceships, trucks and forts children create. "Ladyfigs" are somewhat anatomically correct, which hypersexualizes girls, according to the group.
"They have little breasts and they have fancy hair," the organization's executive director, Dana Edell, told FoxNews.com. "And it just disturbs us that this is the image that they want girls to see."
(as opposed to mostly anatomically incorrect BIG breasts and fancy hair — ala Barbi. Maybe they are just upset at fancy hair?)"

Comment Re:Not necessiarly (Score 1) 448

I've read a metric ton of golden-age science fiction, Gibson, Stephenson, etc. Personally I think that it's not so much darkness at all, but the fact that you need to elaborate on things to turn it into a story and that results in inventing hypothetical problems out of hypothetical advances.

The counterpoint to Gibson is the post-cyberpunk genre, like GITS and it's ilk. Personally I think that the pendulum swung full-circle towards darkness in the 90ies, much as with superhero fiction which I understand has gone through a similar cycle.

Comment A terrible thing to be teaching smart children. (Score 1) 663

At worst, I guess that a system like this means that some smart children will be crushed. But certainly, a smart child would realize what the expected answer would be. However, what kind of mentality does that set up in a child? Having to lie/embellish the truth to authority figures because they don't know any better would certainly be alienating, and (speaking from experience as someone who probably would be considered "gifted" in the american education system) with all the other children having such different ideals and being angry at you for expressing complex and confusing opinions instead of just rolling along with the groupthink there's just not anyone else there (unless there's other smart kids to hang out with, I guess). This would set you up to go into adult life with the attitude that you're surrounded by dangerous cretins that you have to subjugate for your own safety - and only if they're strong enough to fight back you regard them as human beings. Not to start a flamewar, but this certainly explains the apparent popularity of "Atlas Shrugged".

Comment Re:i always hated the fcat (Score 1) 663

You know, that's the weird thing I've never understood about american college. In my country this sort of "general education" stops at senior high, and if you want a degree in something after that you simply study for the degree at university, a degree being a certificate of a collection of accomplished courses in that field. Why would you waste an adults time with irrelevant things, especially if that person is paying you to teach it to them?

Comment Always had excellent teachers. (Score 1) 663

(I'm swedish, not american, yada yada...)
Aside from a few outliers I've always had excellent teachers, especially in senior high. When I complained to the math teacher that I had difficulty solving problems (l discovered later that I had ADD, simply couldn't keep the numbers in my head for long enough) he borrowed me his copy of "how to solve it" by Pólya. At the first chemistry class the teacher told us an anecdote about how he'd taught students to make fireworks and how a few students later had tried making a batch for new years eve - killing one and maiming the others. So, no fireworks. One of my phys-ed teachers was an ex-jaeger, the other a former acrobat and the curriculum actually included some theory as to why and how you should do things. Shop class guy was a carpenter by trade. My electronics teacher was a former EE (though unfortunately I think he was a bit schizophrenic, he sometimes gave us quizzes on alchemy... nevertheless, he seemed to know his electronics well...), etc.

Even those teachers who didn't have professional or academic backgrounds had at least an interest in teaching the students actual knowledge about whatever they where teaching. Looking back, I think you could say that the only bad teachers where those who didn't have knowledge about the field they where teaching, regardless of being qualified teachers. Excepting those who had personality disorders and such - one female teacher in middle school had "real aspergers" and couldn't deal with people. She once threw a book in the head of poor Johnny (his actual name) beacuse he kept making such noise. Later, poor Johnny was assaulted by the librarian because she had forgotten to take her antipsychotics. Poor Johnny grew up to be a manual laborer AFAIK. Not that it matters here, because professional manual laborers have pretty high salaries.

Comment Plugin repository (Score 1) 194

Maybe someone linked to this already, didn't check all the posts: the official extension repository

The extensions are implemented in JavaScript. You can get a debug console by typing "lg" in the alt+f2 run prompt. The extensions already in the repo includes ones that revert the UI to be more like Gnome 2, as well as at least one system monitor plugin of the type people seem to be pining for. I haven't tried hacking around with this and I don't know how good the API documentation is but people do seem to get stuff done with it.

Comment Seriously. (Score 1) 194

Maybe I'm some sort of edge case who just happens to have the same preferences as the developers, but I like Gnome Shell. It's minimalistic, it's fast, it does things exactly like I want them. With the theming plugin it even looks less gauche; personally I prefer a uniform dark grey on black as far as UI widgets go. I've used most every window manager and desktop environment under the sun, so it's not like I'm talking out of my ass here.

Protip: you can set a "spawn terminal" keyboard shortcut under the keyboard menu, along with shortcuts for navigating the workspaces.
Privacy

Submission + - Boeing prepares an ultra-secure smartphone (examiner.com)

An anonymous reader writes: "Earlier this week, it was revealed that aerospace firm Boeing was working on a high security mobile device for the various intelligence departments. This device will most likely be released later this year, and at a lower price point than other mobile phones targeted at the same communities. Typically, phones in this range cost about $15,000-$20,000 per phone, and use custom hardware and software to get the job done. This phone will most likely use Android as its main operating system of choice, which lowers the cost per phone, since Boeing's developers don't have to write their own operating system from scratch."
Idle

Submission + - A Crab-Based Computer (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: No this is not a joke.
You can build a computer out of all sorts of things — mechanical components, vacuum tubes, transistors, fluids and ... crabs. Researchers have discovered that soldier crabs have behaviors suitable for implementing simple logic and hence — with enough crabs — you can achieve a complete computer.
The Soldier crab Mictyris guinotae has a swarming behavior that is just right for simple logic gates. When two crab swarms collide they fuse to make a single swarm — and this is enough to build an OR gate.
It seems you can build a computer out of almost anything.

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