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Submission + - Fast Internet Affects Home Prices

HughPickens.com writes: What people want in a home can vary a lot, and values can depend heavily on broader market forces. But real estate professionals say there are certain features that can be a deciding factor—like an extra bathroom or pool. And broadband is starting to figure into that same calculus as Ryan Knutson writes at the WSJ that the availability of fast Internet service is starting to affect home prices. A nationwide study released by researchers at the University of Colorado and Carnegie Mellon University finds fiber-optic connections, the fastest type of high speed Internet available, can add $5,437 to the price of a $175,000 home—about as much as a fireplace, or half the value of a bathroom.

The impact is most acute in rural areas, where Internet speeds tend to drop dramatically. In Western Massachusetts, local officials are trying to solve the problem by building their own high speed networks. To accomplish that they’re borrowing a tactic developed a century ago when the region was struggling to gain access to electricity. More than 40 towns have formed a cooperative of Municipal Lighting Plants, a type of public utility first invented to build electricity infrastructure, and are raising funds to build out fiber connections. “Some might call us a coalition of the desperate,” says Monica Webb, chairwoman of the cooperative, called WiredWest. “We’re already feeling the negative impacts of not having adequate broadband.”

Submission + - The Graffiti Grammarians Correcting Street Art in Ecuador (mentalfloss.com)

keithlynpitts writes: Graffiti artists in Quito, Ecuador better bone up on their spelling and grammar, lestÂa group of vigilante street-art editors take a can of red spray paint to their tags. Since November 2014, AcciÃn OrtogrÃfica Quito has been patrolling the streets for graffiti in need of a little copy editing.

Their name references AcciÃn Poetica, a movement that began in Monterrey, Mexico in 1966 and whose members have beenÂgraffitingÂlove poems and quotes about friendship and optimism across Latin America for decades. The intentions of AcciÃn Poetica are noble, but their grammar isn't always up to snuffâ"which is why AcciÃn OrtogrÃfica frequently targets their graffiti for correction.

The group is comprised of three men in their 30s, one of whom is primarily responsible for running their active social media accounts while the other two correct grammar mistakes out on the streets. Although they describe what they do as tryingÂ"to take a vandalistic act and put some order in whatâ(TM)s anarchic by nature," that doesn't mean they're legally in the clear. To avoid run-ins with the police, AcciÃn OrtogrÃfica works at night. First, they drive around scouting error-riddled graffiti, then the two active members grab a beer while they discuss edits. Afterwards, they return to carry out the corrections.

In an anonymous conversation with COLORS Magazine, they defended their efforts, saying, "itâ(TM)s a public service and a moral obligation. Weâ(TM)re against spelling vandalism and we wonâ(TM)t break nor give up until we see a society free of spelling mistakes."

Si en tus besos encontrara la escencia de vida, serÃa no besarte el peor pecado que cometerÃa.#HéroesAnÃnimos

Posted by AcciÃn OrtogrÃfica onÂTuesday, February 10, 2015

Their edits range from simple first letter capitalization to a full-sentence overhaul. Their first job contained 13 errors in just two lines of text.

"Thereâ(TM)s a big difference in saying: âNo quiero verteâ(TM) (I donâ(TM)t want to see you) and âNo, quiero verteâ(TM) (No, I want to see you)," one of the members said. "Many times, someone does not realize how a comma or an oversight can completely change the meaning of a sentence. It can change your life."

Recently, they've taken their copy editors' eye to Twitter, where they've corrected spelling and grammar mistakes in tweets by Ecuadorâ(TM)s president Rafael Correaâ"although they stipulate that their concern is strictly linguistic, not political.

Hoy, con @PrensaQuito, corregimos una de tres publicaciones.
#aQUITOdos también nos equivocamos. pic.twitter.com/JA5WAZ02eg

â" AcciÃn OrtogrÃfica Q (@AccionOQ) February 11, 2015

Their plans for the future involve spreading beyond Quito and launching a hotline where passersby can leave tips about graffiti in need of a little editing.

"We recently received a complaint about a nice graffiti that talks about how unbelievable a momâ(TM)s love is. We think itâ(TM)s important that the message get through."

[h/t COLORS Magazine]

Submission + - Ted Cruz is a 'Star Trek' fan and that is a good thing (examiner.com)

MarkWhittington writes: Just to prove that he is a multifaceted character, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas sat down for an interview for the New York Times Magazine and opened his mind, not on matters of high policy, but on comic books and science fiction. As a lad, he liked Spiderman and Han Solo. But it is in the realm of “Star Trek” that the presidential candidate may have created some controversy for himself. He very much prefers Captain James Kirk to Captain Jean-Luc Picard. There are Star Trek fans who will argue passionately for either Enterprise skipper. But then again, some Trek fans will fight over what angle Spock’s ears protrude from his temples.

Submission + - There Is No Honeybee Crisis (theglobeandmail.com) 1

iONiUM writes: An article today claims that there is no longer any Honeybee crises, and that the deaths of the Honeybees previously was a one-off, or possibly non-cyclical occurance (caused by neonics or nature — the debate is still out). The data used is that from Stats Canada which claims "the number of honeybee colonies is at a record high [in Canada]." Globally, the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization says that "worldwide bee populations have rebounded to a record high." However, many corporations and pro-environment groups have much to gain by creating a panic about Honeybee deaths, and as such continue to publish stories claiming the situation is dire.

Submission + - UI Fail: How Our User interfaces Help to Ruin Lives (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: A couple of months ago, in "Seeking Anecdotes Regarding 'Older' Persons' Use of Web Services," I asked for stories and comments regarding experiences that older users have had with modern Web systems, with an emphasis on possible problems and frustrations.

I purposely did not define "older" — with the result that responses arrived from users (or regarding users) self-identifying as ages ranging from their 30s to well into their 90s (suggesting that "older" is largely a point of view rather than an absolute).

Response rates were much higher than I had anticipated, driven significantly by the gracious endorsement of my survey by Leo Notenboom of ASK LEO!, who went out on a limb and assured his large readership that I was not some loony out to steal their personal information.

Before I began the survey I had some preconceived notions of how the results would appear. Some of these were proven correct, but overall the responses also contained many surprises, often both depressing and tragic in scope.

Submission + - Monsanto Develops First Genetically Modified Strain of Marijuana (wisconsinagconnection.com)

schwit1 writes: Monsanto has announced it has patented the first genetically modified strain of marijuana. Global AgInvesting reports that the news has been welcomed by scientists and leaders of the agriculture business alike as a move forward towards the industrial use of marijuana and hemp products could bring a major shift towards marijuana policies in the U.S.A. and ultimately, to the world.

Under present U.S. federal law, it is illegal to possess, use, buy, sell, or cultivate marijuana, since the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, although it has been decriminalized to some extent in certain states, Monsanto's interest in the field has been interpreted by experts as the precursor to "a major shift in marijuana policy in the U.S." as it is believed the company would not have invested so much time and energy if it had not had "previous knowledge" of the Federal government's "openness" towards the future legalization of marijuana.

Submission + - How Does the iPhone Do That: Behind the Downfall at BlackBerry

HughPickens.com writes: Ian Austen has an interesting interview in the NYT with the Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff, authors of "Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry," that offers details about the emotional and business turmoil surrounding the collapse of the once-dominant smartphone maker’s fall into near market obscurity. Most interesting is Balckberry's initial reaction to the iPhone. "It was an interesting contrast to the team at Google, which was working on smartphones at the time. Google seemed to realize immediately that the world had changed and scrapped its keyboard plans. At BlackBerry, they sort of dismissed the need to do anything about it in the short term," says McNish. "One thing that they misunderstood is how the game had changed when AT&T announced its deal with Apple," added Silcoff. "BlackBerry had built its whole business model on offering carriers products that worked efficiently on their networks. The first thing Mike Lazaridis said when he saw an iPhone at home is that this will never work, the network can’t sustain it. What they misunderstood is that the consumer demand would make carriers invest in their networks."

"One of the big reveals for us in the book was the enormous power wielded by carriers in the smartphone race," says McNish. "In the wake of Apple’s ascendency, carriers have seen their clout and economic value significantly diminished as customers spend more of their smartphone money on Apple phones, apps and other content than they do on carrier bills. It is one of the greatest wealth transfers in our generation."

Submission + - Truth and lies about ESD (networkworld.com)

netbuzz writes: The discussion started on Reddit’s section devoted to networking with this question: “Has anyone here ever destroyed anything via ESD (electrostatic discharge)?” Yes they have. Network Work culled a few of the more colorful anecdotes, and readers there added some of their own. It was also noted that not every claim of ESD-related damage is to be taken at face value: “Most failures claimed to be ESD-related are probably covers for something else.” Most? Probably?

Submission + - Slashdot Japan becoming srad.jp

AmiMoJo writes: OSDN, operators of Slashdot Japan, have announced that the site's name will change to srad.jp. Slashdot Japan first launched on the 28th of May, 2001, nearly 14 years ago, as a Japanese language counterpart to the main English Slashdot site (which doesn't even support Japanese in comments). The response to he news from Slashdot Japan users was somewhat mixed, but he site promises to otherwise continue in the same manner as before. It is unknown if the classic green glow will remain.

Submission + - RadioShack Puts Customer Data Up For Sale In Bankruptcy Auction (itworld.com)

itwbennett writes: For years, RadioShack made a habit of collecting customers’ contact information at checkout. Now, the bankrupt retailer is putting that data on the auction block. A list of RadioShack assets for sale includes more than 65 million customer names and physical addresses, and 13 million email addresses. Bloomberg reports that the asset sale may include phone numbers and information on shopping habits as well. New York's Attorney General says his office will take 'appropriate action' if the data is handed over.

Submission + - Scientists crack viral "enigma code" (huffingtonpost.com)

barlevg writes: A new paper to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claims a breakthrough in our understanding of viral replication and could lead to new to new treatments for polio, HIV and even the common cold. Biologist Peter Stockley, with the help of mathematician Reidun Twarock, has cracked the code for how replicated viral RNA molecules self-assemble, a process Stockley calls a "Harry Potter moment:" the instructions are in plain sight... but only appear once the RNA has been folded.

Submission + - Tracking Down How Many (Or How Few) People Actively Use Google+

BarbaraHudson writes: Business Insider is reporting that almost nobody is publicly active on Google+ From his 2015 analysis particularly, Morbius covers hundreds of Google+ profiles in detail. "We've got a grand spanking total of 24 profiles out of 7,875 whose 2015 post activity isn't YouTube comments but Google+ posts. That a 0.3% rate of all profile pages, going back to our 2.2 billion profiles. No wonder Dave Besbris (Google+ boss) doesn't want to talk about numbers,"

For those interested in duplicating this, both the methodology and the scripts used can be found here.

Submission + - Google stopped making Glassholes, not Google Glass (networkworld.com)

smaxp writes: When people who didn't code got their hands on Glass, things started to go very wrong. Glass made this group feel specially chosen and entitled – that they were somehow Google Glass ambassadors. And this group wasn't made up of just reserved software developer types; it included a disproportionate share of extroverted, attention-seeking publicity hounds. Hence the term "Glasshole."

Submission + - Lost Beagle2 probe found 'intact' on Mars (bbc.co.uk)

Stolga writes: The missing Mars robot Beagle2 has been found on the surface of the Red Planet, apparently intact.

High-resolution images taken from orbit have identified its landing location, and it looks to be in one piece.

The UK-led probe tried to make a soft touchdown on the dusty world on Christmas Day, 2003, using parachutes and airbags — but no radio contact was ever made with the probe.

Many scientists assumed it had been destroyed in a high-velocity impact.

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