Joe_Dragon writes: Abstract: America’s higher education system is in dire need of reform. The average college student leaves school with more than $23,000 in debt, and total student loan debt in the United States now exceeds $1 trillion. Furthermore, too many students are leaving college without the skills needed to be successful in the workforce. And yet, despite the dire state of today’s higher education system, there is hope on the horizon: By favoring knowledge and skill acquisition over seat time, online options and competency-based learning are disrupting the traditional higher education market and perhaps have laid the foundation for a revitalization of American education. Despite the promise presented by these innovations, however, the antiquated higher education accreditation process remains a considerable obstacle to reform.
Joe_Dragon writes: ITT Technical Institute is officially closing all of its campuses following federal sanctions imposed against the company. The for-profit college announced the changes in a statement:
“It is with profound regret that we must report that ITT Educational Services, Inc. will discontinue academic operations at all of its ITT Technical Institutes permanently after approximately 50 years of continuous service. With what we believe is a complete disregard by the U.S. Department of Education for due process to the company, hundreds of thousands of current students and alumni and more than 8,000 employees will be negatively affected.”
ITT Tech announced it was closing all of its campuses just one week after it stopped enrolling students following a federal crackdown on for-profit colleges. ITT Tech and other higher education companies like it have been widely criticized for accepting billions of dollars in government grants and loans while failing to provide adequate job training for its students. Last year, ITT Tech received an estimated $580 million in federal money (aka taxpayer dollars), according to the Department of Education.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with providing federal loans to students who are seeking higher education, but ITT Tech often went a step further: The company’s recruiters often preyed on students who didn’t understand the nature of taking on debt and shouldn’t have been seeking a technical degree
A report from The Atlantic recently revealed that “students pursuing bachelor’s and associate’s degrees at for-profit colleges saw their earnings drop, compared to before they started the program.” The reason is because students at for-profit colleges are less likely to finish their degrees, have a higher risk of living in poverty, and in addition to earning less than they did before pursuing their degree, students become burdened by debt without learning any technical skills.
The sanctions imposed against ITT Technical Institute last week were described by experts as a “death sentence.” The sanctions prevented ITT Tech from receiving any federal aid for tuition and also required ITT Tech to increase its cash reserves from $94.4 million to $247.3 million. The cash reserves were created to help support students in case the company closed. Now that ITT Tech is officially closed, the company is not saying how it will use its reserves. In an email, a company spokesperson told Gizmodo, “Please see today’s press release. This will be our only comment.”
ITT Tech’s decision to close down its campuses comes after Labor Day weekend, during which many of the faculty members and students at the company’s campuses felt completely lost and out of the loop. “Labor Day gives us a time to pause and spend time with our family,” said the company in an internal email sent on Friday. “As we close out the end of our June quarter, we’d like to extend that time by giving all employees Tuesday, September 6th off as an extra comp holiday.”
In the same email, ITT Tech CEO Kevin Modany indicated to its faculty members that the company’s demise could happen at any moment.
“As you may know, we have contacted the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to request their consideration of possible alternatives to ED’s additional requirements,” said Modany. “However, we cannot provide any assurance that the ED will respond to our requests in a favorable manner. There is a possibility that we could hear something at any time. As such, we ask that you check your email regularly for updates. If you do not have access to email, please check with your Supervisor.”
ITT Technical Institute employees and students have been confused by the company’s opaque emails and lack of communication. During the holiday weekend, my email inbox was filled with messages from faculty and students pleading for more information. “No one knows what’s going on,” said one faculty member. “There is no communication to the staff,” said another.
Students also wrote to Gizmodo, saying they were scared about their future. For example, we received this message on Friday, after our story was published. Here’s what the individual said:
I am a current student at ITT. Went to campus today to study and was kicked out. The dean stated they were closing campus early for the holiday. I sat in the parking lot and watched staff go in and clear out personal affects. Boxes, shopping bags full of things. One instructor brought lunch to campus and several people just left upset. Word is some people were let go to save money towards the 100 million the school has to put in escrow to stay open, other rumor is its prep for the shut down. Not sure what’s happening and have tried calling the CEO of corporate to get answers because I am one of several students that are suppose to graduate 9/29. Scared to death we won’t get to before graduation.
Not all hope is lost. The Department of Education has provided resources to current and formers students in a blog post that may answer some of the immediate questions you have. The DOE is also directing students to this Federal Student Aid announcement page, where its providing information to current and former students who have Title IV-related questions.
Joe_Dragon writes: Microsoft updates support policy: New CPUs will require Windows 10
In a change to its longstanding support policy, Microsoft says PCs based on new CPU architectures, including Intel's Skylake chips, will require Windows 10. A list of preferred systems will support older Windows versions on new hardware, but only for 18 months.
"For the listed systems, along with our OEM partners, we will perform special testing to help future proof customers' investments, ensure regular validation of Windows Updates with the intent of reducing potential regressions including security concerns, and ensure all drivers will be on Windows Update with published BIOS/UEFI upgrading tools, which will help unlock the security and power management benefits of Windows 10 once the systems are upgraded."
I think that putting BIOS/UEFI updates in to the windows 10 auto / forced update system is a real bad idea and may even open MS to having to pay the cost to replace an $600-$1000+ laptop and or $100-$300+ MB. If it's update system try to flash at the wrong time or at a very risky time say right when the is a big storm or at a time where the power is not very stable. Even more so with a install updates on shutdown.
And it can lead to an update loop on a laptop with you must be on AC power to install the bios update and then the system reboots and then windows retry's the update again.
Joe_Dragon writes: Last week we noted how Cox was headed to court this week in a case that could have a pretty massive impact on the broadband industry. The case centers around Cox's decision to stand up to copyright troll Rightscorp, which ultimately resulted in BMG and Round Hill Music suing Cox for purportedly not doing enough to stop piracy. That's ironic, since as we've noted for years, Cox has actually done significantly more than many ISPs when it comes to threatening users over copyright infringement.
Click for full size But Cox has likened these companies' settlement-demand behavior to harassment, and has failed to forward on these complaints or hand over subscriber data. They've also refused to participate in the entertainment industry's "six strikes" initiative.
As such Cox is being made an example of by the entertainment industry. The ISP is also being used to try and push forth the RIAA's long-standing belief that section 512(i) of the DMCA requires that ISPs boot repeat offenders off of their networks. And so far, it looks like the RIAA has a pretty good shot at it.
The Judge in charge of the case recently rejected Cox Communication's claims it was protected by the safe harbor protections of the DMCA. This week he released his full opinion (pdf) on that decision, noting that ISPs are only protected if they make a serious effort to thwart copyright infringement. Judge Liam O'Grady notes that while Cox did state they'd kick repeat offenders off the network (which we first reported on in 2009), those users were allowed to sign back up without penalty:
quote:The record conclusively establishes that before the fall of 2012 Cox did not implement its repeat infringer policy. Instead, Cox publicly purported to comply with its policy, while privately disparaging and intentionally circumventing the DMCA’s requirements. Cox employees followed an unwritten policy put in place by senior members of Cox’s abuse group by which accounts used to repeatedly infringe copyrights would be nominally terminated, only to be reactivated upon request. Once these accounts were reactivated, customers were given clean slates, meaning the next notice of infringement Cox received linked to those accounts would be considered the first in Cox’s graduate response procedure.
As such, O'Grady states that Cox did not have a "reasonably implemented" copyright protection regime in place to qualify for DMCA safe harbor protections, which prevent an ISP from being held liable for user behavior on the network. Cox has argued that you can't kick people off the network based solely on accusations of infringement, since those accusations are often IP-based and haven't always been reliable. O'Grady appears to ignore this entirely.
Note the case continues this week, and Cox could still win, but the ISP isn't off to a great start thanks to O'Grady's interpretation of the law. Most already had agreed that losing your broadband connection because you downloaded the Led Zeppelin discography was heavy-handed and troubling. As such, an entertainment industry win that reads 512(i) as demanding that ISPs boot users off the network based on the mere accusation of infringement could set a horrible precedent.
Joe_Dragon writes: Back in 2012, Cox Communications was sued by a customer tired of paying cable set top box fees. The suit claimed Cox was violating antitrust laws by forcing customers to pay a fee to rent the boxes instead of letting them buy their own, resulting in countless thousands being paid for devices worth nowhere near that much. The suit also accused Cox of exaggerating the disadvantages of third party boxes and making the use of cableCARDs unnecessarily difficult to deter adoption.
Click for full size "From this evidence, a jury could reasonably infer that Cox contributed to the lack of a viable market for third-party set-top boxes and that several well-financed consumer electronics companies were poised to enter this market," the complaint claimed. "Thus, the alleged lack of competitors does not excuse Cox’s coercion."
An Oklahoma federal jury has agreed, declaring that Cox violated antitrust laws when it tied premium cable service to set-top rentals. The jury awarded the suing subscribers $6.31 million in damages.
A recent survey by Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal found that set top box competition is virtually nonexistent, with 99% of cable customers renting a cable box. The average household will spend up to $231 per year on set-top rental fees, the study found.
Of course the high cost of programming squeezes the margins on cable TV for cable operators, so they get their pound of flesh in other ways — most notably set top box rental charges and a myriad of sneaky below the line fees.
Ultimately the combination of competition from Internet video, combined with the push toward either open or cloud-driven set tops will likely result in higher broadband prices, as cable operators shift the costs and take advantage of the lack of broadband competition. The case isn't over quite yet; Cox has submitted a motion for a judgment as a matter of law, something the Judge has yet to rule on.
Joe_Dragon writes: A European court just made getting to and from work a tad more tolerable.
Wouldn’t it be great to get paid for commuting? A European court just made that wishful thinking a reality for some workers in Europe.
The European Court of Justice said in a ruling Thursday that “when workersdo not have a fixed or habitual place of work, the time spent by those workers traveling each day between their homes and the premises of the first and last customers designated by their employer constitutes working time within the meaning of the [Working Time Directive,]”—European Union legislation that protects the rights of workers. The directive, for instance, bars employers from forcing workers to log more than 48 hours per week.
The court says that during trips to and from customers, workers are at their employer’s disposal and they act on the instructions of the employer, who “may change the order of the customers or cancel or add an appointment.” It also said that “the fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.” Forcing workers to bear the burden of their employer’s decision, ” would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the [Working Time Directive], which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period.”
The ruling will affect million of public and private sector employees across the EU, specifically those without a permanent office, such as electricians and sales reps,
Joe_Dragon writes: COLOGNE, GERMANY — 14 August 2014 — Paradox Interactive revealed at Gamescom today an all-new city-building simulation game, Cities: Skylines, which will be coming to Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs in 2015.
Developed by Colossal Order, the simulation virtuosos behind the Cities in Motion series, Cities: Skylines pulls players out of the public transportation offices and grants them the power of true urban planning and development. From zoning to building, from utilities to beautification, and from taxation to outreach, players of Cities: Skylines will have total control in endless sandbox gameplay across massive maps – all with extensive built-in mod support.
Joe_Dragon writes: "A San Francisco family that lost its six-year-old daughter, Sofia Liu, in a local traffic accident involving an Uber driver last month has now sued the smartphone-enabled black car firm for wrongful death.
On December 31, 2013, Syed Muzzafar was using the Uber app while he was driving but did not have anyone in his car at the time of the accident. Muzzafar was also named as a defendant in Monday’s civil suit.
Uber has previously argued that because Muzzafar "was not providing services on the Uber system during the time of the accident,” the company is not responsible. Andrew Noyes, an Uber spokesperson, declined further comment. He also did not respond to Ars’ question about whether the company’s attitude would be different had Muzzafar been driving an Uber passenger at the time.
Uber’s own terms of service attempt to absolve the company of all responsibility. This portion appears in all caps, unlike nearly all of the rest of the text.
THE COMPANY DOES NOT PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES, AND THE COMPANY IS NOT A TRANSPORTATION CARRIER. IT IS UP TO THE THIRD PARTY TRANSPORTATION PROVIDER, DRIVER, OR VEHICLE OPERATOR TO OFFER TRANSPORTATION SERVICES WHICH MAY BE SCHEDULED THROUGH USE OF THE APPLICATION OR SERVICE. THE COMPANY OFFERS INFORMATION AND A METHOD TO OBTAIN SUCH THIRD PARTY TRANSPORTATION SERVICES BUT DOES NOT AND DOES NOT INTEND TO PROVIDE TRANSPORTATION SERVICES OR ACT IN ANY WAY AS A TRANSPORTATION CARRIER AND HAS NO RESPONSIBILITY OR LIABILITY FOR ANY TRANSPORTATION SERVICES PROVIDED TO YOU BY SUCH THIRD PARTIES.
. . .
IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COMPANY AND/OR ITS LICENSORS BE LIABLE TO ANYONE FOR ANY INDIRECT, PUNITIVE, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, OR OTHER DAMAGES OF ANY TYPE OR KIND (INCLUDING PERSONAL INJURY, LOSS OF DATA, REVENUE, PROFITS, USE, OR OTHER ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE).
Being “hung out to dry”
Muzzafar, who is out on bail, is likely to face criminal charges, but the San Francisco district attorney has not yet filed those charges.
“[The civil suit] is the next step in this process,” Graham Archer, Muzzafar’s attorney, told Ars. “It was expected by everyone involved. It is the next step for the family on their road to recovering from this tragedy.”
Archer also pointed out that Muzzafar was an unemployed IT worker who had only been an Uber driver for a month at the time of the accident. He was using Uber as a way to make some interim income. Archer added that his client is a married father of four with a five-year-old child.
"It appears that Uber is willing to hang out to dry both my client as well as the Liu family," said Archer. "If [Uber is] unwilling to cover one of their drivers while he’s logged into their system, it seems that that would be hanging him out to dry because he would be potentially liable civilly for the accident and the fact that he was logged into their system at the time could jeopardize his personal insurance coverage and would deny the Liu family the benefit of Uber’s stated insurance policy.”
The 18-page complaint points out that Uber knew, or should have known, that when drivers are using the Uber smartphone app, they would be in plain violation of California Vehicle Code 23123. That code states, “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking and is used in that manner while driving.”
Further, the complaint alleges that Uber knew or should have known that Muzzafar and its other drivers were in violation of a related provision in the California Vehicle Code forbidding the use of an “electronic wireless communications device” while driving.
Beyond the claim of wrongful death, the family is also suing for negligence and product liability, as well as negligent hiring, retention, and training, among other allegations."
CHAMBLEE, Ga. — One Saturday in November, Kaveh Kamooneh drove his Nissan Leaf to Chamblee Middle School, where his 11-year-old son was playing tennis.
Kamooneh had taken the liberty of charging the electric car with an exterior outlet at the school. Within minutes of plugging in the car, he says a Chamblee police officer appeared.
"He said that he was going to charge me with theft by taking because I was taking power, electricity from the school," Kamooneh said.
Kamooneh says he had charged his car for 20 minutes, drawing about a nickel's worth of juice. Don Francis of Clean Cities Atlanta, an electric vehicle advocacy group, says the estimate of 5 cents is accurate.
"I'm not sure how much electricity he stole," said Chamblee police Sergeant Ernesto Ford, but he added: It doesn't matter. "He broke the law. He stole something that wasn't his."
Sgt. Ford says the officer should have arrested Kamooneh on the spot. But he didn't. Instead, the officer filed a police report. Then 11 days passed, and two deputies showed up at his house in Decatur.
"They arrested me here at about eight o'clock at night," Kamooneh said.
Ford said he sought the arrest warrant after determining that school officials hadn't given Kamooneh permission to plug in his car. Ford said Chamblee Police did so without asking school officials if they wanted to prosecute the alleged theft of electricity. A DeKalb Schools spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Records show Kamooneh spent more than 15 hours in the DeKalb County Jail for plugging his car into a school's electrical outlet.
Kamooneh acknowledges he hadn't asked permission first. "When I got there, there was nobody there. It was a Saturday morning," he said.
"A theft is a theft," Sgt. Ford said. When asked if he'd make the arrest again, he answered: "Absolutely."
A 11 days later? and what about people who plug in phones / laptops? Will we start hulling them off to jail as well? What about homeless people who may do this just to get into jail?
Also what about at the airport lot's of people plug in there and lot's of airports are city / local government owned will they track you down and use extradition to have you come back? put out an warrant?
This seems like overkill and that is having the cop come to your door (much less the jail part) when a letter / ticket works better.
Joe_Dragon writes: NEW YORK — March 19, 2013 — Paradox Interactive, a publisher of games and owner of bus passes, announced today that pre-orders are now available for Cities in Motion 2, their forthcoming transit simulation and design game for PC and Mac. Players can pre-purchase the dynamic strategy title now from the game’s new website, located at www.citiesinmotion2.com. Cities in Motion 2 is scheduled to launch on April 2, 2013 for $19.99.
As a bonus for all pre-purchases of Cities in Motion 2, early adopters will receive the “Modern Collection” DLC which includes additional trolley buses, trams, and a boat for water lines. The Modern Collection also introduces a new stop type, which allows trams, buses, and trolleys to share the same stop and allow passengers to switch vehicles with ease, and therefore minimize congestion.
To purchase Cities in Motion 2, check out www.citiesinmotion2.com/buy
This has a lot of stuff that the new simcity was missing and at the much lower price.
Joe_Dragon writes: "I've been getting a lot of questions from high school kids asking whether or not they should go to college. The answer is Yes.
College is where you find out about yourself. It's where you learn how to learn. It's where you get exposure to new ideas. For those into business, it's where you learn the languages of business, accounting, finance, marketing and sales.
The question is not whether or not you should go to school, the question for the class of 2014 is what is your college plan and what is the likelihood that the college or university you attend will still be in business by the time you want to graduate.
Still in business? Yep. When I look at the university and college systems around the country I see the newspaper industry.
The newspaper industry was once deemed indestructable. Then this thing called the internet came along and took away their classified business. The problem wasn't really that their classifieds disappeared. It was more that they had accumulated a ton of debt and had over invested in physical plant and assets that could not adapt to the new digital world.
When revenue fell, the debt was still there — as were all the big buildings they had purchased, all those presses they had bought and the declining-in-value acquisitions. But the debt accumulated to pay for them never went away.
They were stuck with no easy way out.
The exact same thing is happening to our 4 year schools. You can't go to a big state university and not see construction. Why ?
Why in the world are schools building new buildings? What is required in a business school classroom that is any different than the classroom for psychology or sociology or english or any other number of classes? A new library, seriously? What is worse is that schools are taking on debt to pay for this new construction.
Think about this from a business perspective. Schools are seeing state and federal funding decline, as they should. Why should taxpayers be paying for another building?
They are seeing their primary revenue source — tuition, once a number that was never really questioned — becoming a value decision by prospective students. As they should.
Unless your parents are wealthy or you quality for a full ride or something close, the days of picking a school because that is the school you always wanted to go to are gone.
The class of 2014 and beyond now has to prepare a college value plan. What classes are you going to take online that enable you to get the most credits for the least cost. What classes are you going to take at a local, low-cost school so you can get additional credits at the lowest cost.
Then, with your freshman and sophomore classes out of the way, you can start to figure out which school you would like to transfer to, or two years from now, which online classes you can take that challenge you and prepare you for the areas you want to focus on. If you have the personal discipline you may be able to avoid ever having to step on a campus and graduating with a good degree and, miracle of miracles, no debt.
For the smart student who cares about getting their money's worth from college, the days of one school for four years are over. The days of taking on big debt (to the tune of $1 TRILLION as I write this) are gone. Going to a four-year school is supposed to be the foundation from which you create a future, not the transaction that crushes everything you had hoped to do because you have more debt than you could possibly pay off in 10 years. It makes no sense.
Which in turn means that four-year schools that refuse to LOWER their tuition are going to see their enrollment numbers decline. It just doesn't make sense to pay top dollar for Introduction to Accounting , Pyschology 101, etc.
Of course, the big schools are going to argue this all day long. They want and need your money. They want to tell you how beautiful their campus is. The social aspects of going away to college. The amazing professors they have. The opportunities they create. The access to alumni and sports. All were great arguments in 2001 when tuitions were still somewhat reasonable. They no longer hold water.
So back to the economics of four-year schools. Before you go to college, or send your child to a four-year school you better check their balance sheet. How much debt does the school have? How many administrators making more than $200,000 do they have? How much are they spending on building new buildings — none of which add value to your child's education, but as enrollments decline will force the school to increase their tuition and nail you with other costs. They just create a debtor university that risks going out of business.
There will be colleges and universities that fail, declare bankruptcy or have to re-capitalize much like the newspaper industry has and long before the class of 2018 graduates.
The smart high school grad no longer just picks a school, borrows money and wings it. Your future depends on your ability to assemble an educational plan that gets you on your path of knowledge and discovery without putting you at risk of attending a school that is doomed to fail , and/or saddling you with a debt heavy balance sheet that prevents you from taking the chances, searching for the opportunities or just being a fuck up for a while. We each take our own path, but nothing shortcuts the dreams of a 22 year old more than oweing a shitload of money.
Now is the time to figure it out and avoid the mess schools are creating for themselves and for those who take the old school way to college graduation."
why so much push for 4 year schools over time that will just become 5-6-7-8+ year plans we don't need that much time pure class room as well filler and fluff classes to pad stuff out.
The idea of additional credits at the lowest cost is a nice but some schools make you retake there classes some times just for the cash or you have to jump though hoops to move the credits.
We need to get out of the older system and have some kind of badges systems.