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Submission + - In Memory: Seymour Papert

Paul Fernhout writes: The MIT Media Lab sadly informs us: "Seymour Papert, whose ideas and inventions transformed how millions of children around the world create and learn, died Sunday, July 31, 2016 at his home in East Blue Hill, Maine. He was 88. Papert's career traversed a trio of influential movements: child development, artificial intelligence, and educational technologies. Based on his insights into children's thinking and learning, Papert recognized that computers could be used not just to deliver information and instruction, but also to empower children to experiment, explore, and express themselves. The central tenet of his Constructionist theory of learning is that people build knowledge most effectively when they are actively engaged in constructing things in the world. As early as 1968, Papert introduced the idea that computer programming and debugging can provide children a way to think about their own thinking and learn about their own learning. ..."

Papert created the Logo programming language. He advised the Lego Mindstorms project (named after his book) and the OLPC project. Papert's "Hard Fun" essay gets at the core of why being a techy is enjoyable. Papert's work also helped inspire our Garden Simulator as an educational microworld. How has Seymour Papert's work affected you?

Submission + - World's largest radio telescope completes installation (xinhuanet.com)

An anonymous reader writes: China has completed construction of the world’s largest radio telescope, which required the resettlement of more than 9,000 people. It will be used to hunt for signs of alien life in deep space.
The Single-Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), as it is known, is an enormous dish made up of 4,450 reflector panels with a diameter of half a kilometer and an area the size of around 30 football pitches, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Submission + - Patent war goes nuclear: Microsoft, Apple-owned "Rockstar" sues Google (arstechnica.com)

GODISNOWHERE writes: So this is what "thermonuclear war" looks like.
The complaint against Google involves six patents, all from the same patent "family." They're all titled "associative search engine," and list Richard Skillen and Prescott Livermore as inventors. The patents describe "an advertisment machine which provides advertisements to a user searching for desired information within a data network.

Submission + - NASA teams with Lego to offer coolest, most realistic model competition (networkworld.com)

coondoggie writes: Seems like a natural fit: NASA today said it would team up with Lego to offer a competition to see who can build the coolest models of future airplanes and spacecraft. The "NASA's Missions: Imagine and Build" competition is open now with an entry deadline of July 31. Winners in each category will be selected by a panel of NASA and LEGO officials and announced Sept. 1.

Submission + - UK benefits claimants forced to use Microsoft Windows XP and IE6 (theinquirer.net)

carlypage3 writes: Benefits claimants in the UK are being forced to use Microsoft's now obsolete Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 software. The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) states that its online forms are not compatible with Internet Explorer 7, 8, 9 and 10, Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox. As if that wasn't unnerving enough, the Gov.UK website says that users cannot submit claims using Mac OS X or Linux operating systems, either.

Submission + - High school student faces Federal charges for scientific curiosity

SemperCogito writes: This petition at Whitehouase.gov (http://wh.gov/zx1m) explains:

Kiera Wilmot is a Florida high school student with a perfect behavior record and good grades. She was recently arrested, hauled from school in handcuffs, expelled, and now faces Federal charges — all because of shameful over-reaction by school officials and law enforcement.

Out of curiosity and the scientific spirit, she mixed some common household chemicals together, creating a vigorous reaction that blew the top off the container she used. No one was hurt — no damage was done. But instead of appluading her boldness of spirit and connecting her to a science teacher that could mentor it, she is being treated like a criminal!

This travesty of justice and education must be stopped. Reinstate her, and wipe her records clean. Then celebrate her!

More on the story: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/riptide/2013/04/florida_teen_girl_charged_with.php Her principal's email address: Ronald.Pritchard@polk-fl.net

Submission + - Making your own phone is easier than you might think (newscientist.com)

Big Hairy Ian writes: "Our reporter builds a handcrafted cellphone using widely available parts and online instructions

SUDDENLY, my phone rings. It chirps out a tinny version of what sounds like the Christmas carol Angels We Have Heard on High. I am giddy with amazement.

On the fifth floor of the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, David Mellis has just plugged in the mobile phone I spent all afternoon soldering together. That's right: I just built a cellphone. By hand.

Mellis is a graduate student in the High-Low Tech lab, a group of engineering evangelists trying to bring technology know-how to people who perhaps thought it was out of reach. In 2005, he helped found Arduino, a company that makes easy-to-program microprocessors and sells them on simple circuit boards. The idea is to help people make electronic products without needing a degree in computer science.

They're popular among hobbyists, hackers and the sort of people who end up working at the Media Lab but they're hardly mainstream. Mellis wondered if he could take the idea further."

Microsoft

Submission + - Microsoft Kills Expression Suite (i-programmer.info)

mikejuk writes: Microsoft has announced that the Expression suite of design tools is no more. It has been removed from sale immediately and it has been placed on a maintenance only status until it reaches its end of life. Expression was Microsoft’s offering for designers and competed directly with Adobe products. You can now download the components of Expression — Design 4, Web 4 and Encoder 4 — for free but you can’t buy them. Of course, knowing that you are using "doomed" products, even for free, takes some of the icing off the cake.The central component of the suite the UI designer Blend is to be integrated with Visual Studio 2012 probably along with Update 2. It looks as if Microsoft is giving up on trying to get designers to use its tools.
The Internet

Submission + - The Top 100 Websites of 2012

adeelarshad82 writes: Honoring their yearly ritual, PCMag has put together their list of top 100 websites for this year. The list cuts across eight categories, split between all-time classics and new "undiscovered" sites. As one would expect, some all time favorites like BBC, Facebook & The Oatmeal made the list along with some up and coming sites such as Watts Up With That?, Polygon and Ge.tt.
China

Submission + - US energy independence causing Middle East disengagement? (cnbc.com)

Andy Prough writes: "With the U.S. moving rapidly towards energy independence, governments in the Gulf region of the Middle East worry the uptick in U.S. production could fuel broader regional disengagement as their American ally faces a war-weary and economically-challenged electorate back home. Added to that are questions about whether the U.S. should continue to subsidize the security of China's oil supplies, which are increasingly passing through the Strait of Hormuz. That's raising worries in the Gulf that the U.S. may disengage from the region."

Submission + - Auto-threading compiler could restore Moore's Law gains (drdobbs.com)

Nemo the Magnificent writes: Develop in the Cloud has news about what might be a breakthrough out of Microsoft Research. A team there wrote a paper (PDF), now accepted for publication at OOPSLA, that describes how to teach a compiler to auto-thread a program that was written single-threaded in a conventional language like C#. This is the holy grail to take advantage of multiple cores — to get Moore's Law improvements back on track, after they essentially ran aground in the last decade. (Functional programming, the other great white hope, just isn't happening.) About 2004 was when Intel et al. ran into a wall and started packing multiple cores into chips instead of cranking the clock speed. The Microsoft team modified a C# compiler to use the new technique, and claim a "large project at Microsoft" have written "several million lines of code" testing out the resulting "safe parallelism."
Hardware

Submission + - Self-healing, self-heating flash memory survives more than 100 million cycles (extremetech.com)

MrSeb writes: "Macronix, one of the world’s largest producers of flash memory, has produced a new kind of flash memory that can survive more than 100 million program/erase (PE) cycles — most likely long enough to persist until the end of human civilization. By comparison, the NAND cells found in conventional flash memory — as in commercial SSDs — generally have a lifespan of just a few thousand PE cycles. For such a huge advance you would expect an equally vast technological leap — but in this instance, that’s certainly not the case. Macronix just adds a bit of heat — literally, each of Macronix’s new memory cells contains a heating element that can deliver a jolt of 800C (1472F) heat to the cell, healing it and preventing wear-out. Furthermore, 100 million PE cycles is a low-ball estimate: In reality, Macronix’s new flash might survive billions of cycles — but it would take so long to test that the company doesn’t yet know."

Submission + - Schoolboy Shoots His Bully (news24.com)

FooRat writes: "A South African schoolboy could no longer take the abuse, brought a firearm to school and shot and killed his abuser. Other kids at the school are reportedly relieved the bully is dead. If women can suffer Battered Wife Syndrome for suffering years of abuse, are there not parallels with a child at school who also suffers years of abuse, while schools do nothing? This killing may not be justified, but surely by continuing to condone bullying we are failing our children, and can expect more of this in future."

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