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Education

Code.org: More Money For CS Instructors Who Teach More Girls 381

theodp writes "The same cast of billionaire characters — Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Eric Schmidt — is backing FWD.us, which is lobbying Congress for more visas to 'meet our workforce needs,' as well as Code.org, which aims to popularize Computer Science education in the U.S. to address a projected CS job shortfall. In laying out the two-pronged strategy for the Senate, Microsoft General Counsel and Code.org Board member Brad Smith argued that providing more kids with a STEM education — particularly CS — was 'an issue of critical importance to our country.' But with its K-8 learn-to-code program which calls for teachers to receive 25% less money if fewer than 40% of their CS students are girls, Smith's Code.org is sending the message that training too many boys isn't an acceptable solution to the nation's CS crisis. 'When 10 or more students complete the course,' explains Code.org, "you will receive a $750 DonorsChoose.org gift code. If 40% or more of your participating students are female, you'll receive an additional $250, for a total gift of $1,000 in DonorsChoose.org funding!" The $1+ million Code.org-DonorsChoose CS education partnership appears to draw inspiration from a $5 million Google-DoonorsChoose STEM education partnership which includes nebulous conditions that disqualify schools from AP STEM funding if projected participation by female students in AP STEM programs is deemed insufficient. So, are Zuckerberg, Gates, Ballmer, and Schmidt walking-the-gender-diversity-talk at their own companies? Not according to the NY Times, which just reported that women still account for only about 25% of all employees at Code.org supporters Apple, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. By the way, while not mentioning these specific programs, CNET reports that Slashdot owner Dice supports the STEM efforts of Code.org and Donors Choose."
Transportation

NHTSA Tells Tesla To Stop Exaggerating Model S Safety Rating 284

cartechboy writes "There's always that kid in the class that ruins it for everyone when being graded on a curve. At the moment, that kid is Tesla and Elon Musk. Tesla's been proudly claiming the Model S is one of the safest cars in the word despite the recent fire controversy. And while it may be just that, claiming it earned 5.4 stars from NHTSA isn't pleasing the safety agency as there is no such thing as a rating higher than five. While NHTSA already released a statement indirectly to Tesla saying it doesn't release ratings higher than 5, Tesla continued to promote this fictitious rating. Now NHTSA has updated its guidelines explicitly stating safety ratings are whole numbers only and that 5 stars is the maximum advertisers can claim. If advertisers and automakers decide to disregard these rules NHTSA is threatening removal from the program or referral to state authorities for appropriate action. Basically, hey Tesla, stop making false claims."
Software

Winamp Shutting Down On December 20 400

New submitter Cid Highwind writes "If you want to download the latest version of Winamp, you'd better do it soon. According to a new banner on the download page, AOL will be pulling the plug on the iconic llama-whipping music player in a month. 'Winamp.com and associated web services will no longer be available past December 20, 2013. Additionally, Winamp Media players will no longer be available for download. Please download the latest version before that date. See release notes for latest improvements to this last release. Thanks for supporting the Winamp community for over 15 years.' Ars Technica ran an article last year detailing how the music player lost its dominance."
Transportation

Texas Drivers Stopped At Roadblock, Asked For Saliva, Blood 783

schwit1 writes "Some drivers along a busy Fort Worth street on Friday were stopped at a police roadblock and directed into a parking lot, where they were asked by federal contractors for samples of their breath, saliva and even blood. It was part of a government research study aimed at determining the number of drunken or drug-impaired drivers.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is spending $7.9 million on the survey over three years, said participation was '100 percent voluntary' and anonymous. The 'participants' hardly agree."

Comment Re:Liberty is the only thing in danger here. (Score 1) 550

The really interesting thing here in my opinion is why all of those things have been ineffectual. It seems to start when the anti-gun lobby proposes a law with the intent of doing nothing other than hassling gun owners (safety is almost always given lip service but never actually intended). Then the pro-gun lobby shows up and strips the teeth out of the law, even if by sheer random chance it happens to make sense. The end result is a mess of really stupid and confusing gun laws that don't actually accomplish anything other than confusing everyone.

It's not actually very interesting at all. Every compromise between "shall not" and "may" initiated by "shall not" is always a win for "shall not" and always a loss for "may".

It doesn't matter if it's gun rights, abortion rights, voting rights, or anything else, really.

Security

FBI Reports US Agencies Hacked By Anonymous 156

Rambo Tribble writes "Reuters is reporting that the FBI has issued a warning to several U.S. Government agencies that the Anonymous collective has hacked their systems. Included in the list of compromised agencies are the U.S. Army, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and potentially many more agencies. The avenue of attack: Adobe Cold Fusion."

Comment Re:Pinball (Score 1) 283

Which is a mistake of the poll. Six options refer to actual games, and one option refers to a genre. A potentially interesting poll is completely ruined.

How I would vote depends on WHICH pinball games where there. Faced with Black Knight or F-14 Tomcat the choice between whether to hit up the pinball or the video side is pretty easy.

Transportation

Why Letting Your Insurance Company Monitor How You Drive Can Be a Good Thing 567

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kim Gittleson reports at BBC that car insurance firms like Progressive are trying to convince consumers that letting them monitor their driving behavior is actually a good thing. They say that the future of car insurance is not just being able to monitor individual drivers to give them lower prices, but also to make them better drivers. 'Now that we can observe directly how people drive, we think this will change the way insurance works,' says Dave Pratt, who says that Progressive has more than a trillion seconds of driving data from 1.6 million customers. '18-year-old guys pay a lot for insurance, but some 18-year-olds are really safe drivers and they deserve a better deal.' Better big data technologies, like the telematic driving data collected by car companies (PDF) or even information gathered from social media profiles, can help augment that risk profile. 'If I'm a driver that doesn't drive that frequently, and I have a pattern that would indicate that I drive more carefully than an average person with my profile, then I may be able to save 30-40% on my car insurance, and that's pretty significant,' says Joe Reifel. For now, using big data analytics for insurers is still in the early stages. Only 2% of the U.S. car insurance market offers an insurance product based on monitoring driving, but that proportion is projected to grow to around 10-15% of the market by 2017. And other countries, like Italy and the U.K., are already using the data to analyze not just risk profiles but also to determine who is at fault in car accidents. The future, most analysts agree is create a continuous feedback loop between insurers and consumers, so that consumers will react to the big data analyses that insurers perform and change their behavior accordingly. 'Bad drivers will at some point need to improve their driving or accept [having] to pay for the real risk they represent,' says Jacques Amselem."
Programming

Zuckerberg To Teach 10 Million Kids 0-Based Counting 295

theodp writes "'Why do programmers start counting at zero?' wondered Mike Hoye, questioning the conventional programming wisdom. Code.org will soon introduce the practice to a hoped-for audience of 10 million schoolchildren as part of Computer Science Education Week's Hour of Code. In a tutorial created by engineers from Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook that's intended to introduce programming to kids as young as six years old, an otherwise breezy lesson featuring look-ma-no-typing Blockly and characters out of Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies, a Mark Zuckerberg video introducing the concept of Repeat Loops includes an out-of-place JavaScript example that shows kids it's as easy as 0-1-2-3 to generate 4 lines of lyrics from Happy Birthday to You by using zero-based numbering with a For-loop and ternary If statement. Accompanying videos by Bill Gates on If Statements and basketball star Chris Bosh on Repeat Until Blocks show the Code.org tutorial is still a work-in-progress. That's no big deal, since CSEdWeek has pushed back the delivery date for final Hour of Code tutorials from its prior little-time-for-testing due date to Dec. 9th, the first day of a five-day period during which teachers are expected to deliver the lessons to 10 million students."
Government

ATF Tests Show 3D Printed Guns Can Explode 233

Lucas123 writes "The ATF has been testing 3D printed guns over the past year and, not surprisingly, has found that depending on the thermoplastics, 3D printers and CAD designs used, some can explode on the first attempt to shoot them. The ATF published videos this week of the tests on YouTube showing what looked like a Liberator model of a 3D gun exploding upon being fired. Another model, created with the popular ABS polymer and an advanced printer, could fire as many as 8 shots. The tests were published at a time when a law passed in 1988 banning the sale of guns made entirely of plastic is set to expire next month." I hope they post the videos when they do the same tests on Solid Concepts' 1911.
Education

A Makerbot In Every Classroom 152

Daniel_Stuckey writes "At the start of this year, President Obama nicely summed up the grandiose promise of 3D printing — or rather, the hype surrounding it. In his State of the Union address the president suggested the fledgling technology could save manufacturing by ushering in a second industrial revolution. That shout-out inspired a spate of buzzkill blog posts pointing out — rightly enough — that despite its potential, 3D printing is still in its infancy. It's not the panacea for the struggling economy we want it to be, at least not yet. Apparently the naysayers weren't enough to kill the 3D-printing dream, because, with support from the federal government, MakerBot announced its initiative to put a 3D printer in every school in America. The tech startup and the administration are betting big that teaching kids 3D printing is teaching them the skills they'll need as tomorrow's engineers, designers, and inventors." Caveat: Makerbot no longer produces open hardware, and they are pushing proprietary Autodesk software and educational materials as part of the free 3D printer. Makerbot also launched a call for open models of math manipulatives on Thingiverse (you might remember them from elementary school) so that teachers have something useful to print immediately.

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