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Oregon To Let Students Use Spell Check on State Exams Screenshot-sm 235

Starting in 2011, the Oregon Department of Education will let students spell check their work before submitting state exams. From the article: "The move is supposed to help the assessments focus less on typos and more on their writing skills. 'We are not letting a student's keyboarding skills get in the way of being able to judge their writing ability,' said state Superintendent Susan Castillo. 'As we're using technology to improve what we're doing with assessments as a nation, we believe that spell check will be one of those tools.'"
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iRacing World Champion Gets a Shot At the Real Thing Screenshot-sm 168

jamie sent in a link to the story of iRacing World Champion Greger Huttu, who caught the attention of the Top Gear guys and got a chance to drive a real Star Mazda racer. iRacing is a realistic driving simulator that recreates the exact physics of race cars and tracks from around the world, and nobody is better than Greger. Top Gear wanted to see how the virtual champion would do with the real thing. Even though he was eventually unable to put up with the physical demands, Greger drove really well.
Operating Systems

Should Being Competitive With Windows Matter For Linux? 645

An anonymous reader writes "Is Linux being held back by distributions bent on competing with Microsoft Windows? This article argues that it's a real possibility. Quoting: '... what was apparent early on during my Linux adoption was my motivation for making the switch in the first place — no longer wanting to use Windows. This is where I think the confusion begins for most new Linux adopters. As we make the switch, we must fight the inherent urge to automatically begin comparing the new desktop experience to our previous experiences with Windows. It's a completely different set of circumstances, folks. ... The fact that one platform can support a specific device while the other platform cannot (and so on) doesn't really solve the problem of getting said device working. You can see where this dysfunction of thought can become a big problem, fast."
Portables (Games)

Epic Games Predicts Console, Mobile Convergence 104

An anonymous reader writes "After taking the stage at the Apple iPhone event in September, game developer Epic Games has finally revealed more about its plan to release Unreal Engine for the iOS devices. UE3 is incredibly popular on consoles, and its free UDK has been really great for us modders. In this new interview, engine boss Mark Rein says the developer envisions a future where all game devices are handhelds, with high-end processors inside: 'It feels like there's a great opportunity for game consoles to cease to be something you plug into the wall and rather become something you take with you. Of course it will be more than just your game console; you can have your productivity apps, your documents, and your media collections on it as well.'"
Software

Separating Hope From Hype In Quantum Computing 109

pgptag writes "This talk by Dr. Suzanne Gilbert (video) explains why quantum computers are useful, and also dispels some of the myths about what they can and cannot do. It addresses some of the practical ways in which we can build quantum computers and gives realistic timescales for how far away commercially useful systems might be."
Biotech

Self-Assembling Photovoltaic Tech From MIT 128

telomerewhythere writes "Michael Strano and his team at MIT have made a self-assembling and indefinitely repairable photovoltaic cell based on the principle found in chloroplasts inside plant cells. 'The system Strano's team produced is made up of seven different compounds, including the carbon nanotubes, the phospholipids, and the proteins that make up the reaction centers, which under the right conditions spontaneously assemble themselves into a light-harvesting structure that produces an electric current. Strano says he believes this sets a record for the complexity of a self-assembling system. When a surfactant is added to the mix, the seven components all come apart and form a soupy solution. Then, when the researchers removed the surfactant, the compounds spontaneously assembled once again into a perfectly formed, rejuvenated photocell.'"
Businesses

American Business Embraces 'Gamification' 109

Hugh Pickens writes "JP Mangalindan writes that for years psychologists have studied what makes video games so engrossing — why do players spend hours accruing virtual points working towards intangible rewards and what characteristics make some games more addictive than others? Now, companies are realizing that 'gamification' — using the same mechanics that hook gamers — is an effective way to generate business. For example, when Nike released Nike + in 2008, it 'gamified' exercise. 'Place the pedometer in a pair of (Nike) sneaks and it monitors distance, pace and calories burned, transmitting that data to the user's iPod. The Nike software loaded on the iPod will then "reward" users if they reach a milestone,' writes Mangalindan. 'If a runner beats his 5-mile distance record, an audio clip from Tour de France cycling champ Lance Armstrong congratulates him.' In addition, users can upload their information, discuss achievements online with other users, and challenge them to distance or speed competitions. The result: to date, Nike has moved well over 1.3 million Nike + units."

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