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Submission + - Teaching computers and technology to kids

Shadow99_1 writes: "I work at a charter school as their network administrator, however in the next few months I've been tasked with coming up with a way of teaching the middle school kids about computers and technology. Or at least coming up with a plan for teaching them computers and technology as I'll be working with one of the teachers to implement this. The problems I'm having with this are the requirements to tie in with their general education: reading, writing, math, etc. So I'm curious has anyone in the Slashdot community done something like this? And if so how and what did you decide to do? Also how did you keep the costs down?

I want to start with the basics by teaching the parts of a PC and having them use some of our spare parts from machines no longer under the service contract to put together a PC from scratch in teams. Then I figure on getting into Operating Systems, preferably by installing Linux on to the machines they have built. The problem here comes in with finding a modern flavor of Linux that will run ok on a P2 400 with 64 MB of ram. Ubuntu has had issues with my test system I tossed together. So I will need suggestions here as well.

I'd also like to teach some programming to the kids. However I'm six years out of date on my programming skills and I only learned BASIC, COBOL, and C++. It needs to be something that has a good English syntax (C++ doesn't really have this and even BASIC and COBOL aren't really what I want here), can generate output that the kids would be interested in (anything that can output to the screen easily or is easy to generate interactive content with is good), and also it needs to be a fairly low cost solution. It also should hopefully be easy for me to pick up as well.

I'd like some other fun projects as well, like maybe some simple robotics stuff (the Lego variety or something similar), some digital photography, etc. However the other things are a higher priority since I think I can apply them to their general education than the more fun projects.

So what would those of Slashdot do if given this project?"
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Ultimate comment on UK Mac/PC ads self-defeating?

Noel Coward writes:,,2 006031,00.html

Charlie Brooker of the Guardian has the last laugh on the wrong-way-roundedness of the UK version of the Mac/PC ads.

The ads are adapted from a near-identical American campaign — the only difference is the use of Mitchell and Webb. They are a logical choice in one sense (everyone likes them), but a curious choice in another, since they are best known for the television series Peep Show — probably the best sitcom of the past five years — in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, "PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers." In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.

Nice description of Myst too ...the most pompous and boring videogame of all time, a plodding, dismal "adventure" in which you wandered around solving tedious puzzles in a rubbish magic kingdom apparently modelled on pretentious album covers
Operating Systems

Launch of OSS For Mobile Phones 75

Linux Mobile Phone Guy writes "Members of the open source GPE project (GPE Palmtop Environment) today announced a new offspring project to create a fully open source software stack for mobile phones, GPE Phone Edition. GPE Phone Edition is a fully open source project based on developments from the GPE project adding necessary components for mobile phone usage. Based on standards defined by the LiPS Forum a complete application software stack is built. The current implementation is based on code contributed to the LiPS Forum by Orange/France Telecom's research and development lab located in Beijing China in collaboration with GPE project members. The result is now an open sourced software stack which can handle a GSM compliant mobile modem for making voice calls, handling the SIM address book and sending and receiving SMS. Also some additional application exists e.g. for media playback, instant messaging and email. They have some screenshots there and even a downloadable VMware image using which you can try the whole thing in a virtual phone on your PC — if you connect a GSM Modem (like an existing phone) to /dev/GSM-Modem you should probably even be able to use the full phone functionality (access SIM card, send/receive SMS, make a call!)."
The Courts

Submission + - Dell and Intel hit by class-action lawsuit

Rob writes: Dell Inc and Intel Corp have been hit by a class-action lawsuit that claims Dell improperly accounted for allegedly secret kickbacks from Intel worth as much as $1bn a year. The suit may well help AMD's own suit against Intel, accusing it of illegally coercing customers away from AMD. Then again, it may turn out to be yet another case of the US litigation system gone awry.
Media (Apple)

Submission + - The 10 worst things about Apple

MacFaith writes: is running a frankly red-rag-to-a-bull feature on 'the 10 worst things about Apple'. Stuff up for condemnation includes: lunatic fringe fans (doubtless already declaring flame war); the fabled 'reality distortion effect' — whereby Steve Jobs 'invents' a product that's been around for years (snake oil anyone?); the iPod (hey, success isn't everything); Apple's trigger-happy hotline to its lawyers; and even the iPhone (it's not out yet but let's complain about it anyway). A 'ten best of' feature is apparently due to follow.

From the article:
"A recent Greenpeace report rated Apple the worst offender on a list of PC companies including Dell, HP and Sony, saying: "Apple fails to embrace the precautionary principle, withholds its full list of regulated substances and provides no timelines for eliminating toxic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and no commitment to phasing out all uses of brominated flame retardants."

Submission + - Raccoon + GoogleMaps

An anonymous reader writes: Thought /.-folks might be interested in a cute mobile mashup-service from Nokia open labs. Check out RaccoonOnMap (beta). From the site: "RaccoonOnMap is an experiment of how to build a web application with AJAX technology combining different (mobile and Internet) Web services and mixing them together to provide a new service, i.e. a mashup. In RaccoonOnMap, the mobiles act as a location Web service providers via Raccoon, a mobile web server. The RaccoonOnMap server provides a mashup mixing Web services from mobiles and Google Maps."

Submission + - Are SuperBowl Ads Worth It?

An anonymous reader writes: Companies spend millions of dollars to run one ad during the game ($2 million to $4 million). Not just on the airtime itself, but also on producing the commercial. Some companies buy as much as $25 million in air time. I did some research to determine if a Superbowl ad was worth the money. I came to one clear answer using public traffic measurement services such as; usually the answer is no.
Technology (Apple)

Submission + - Magsafe adaptors "safer" than PowerBook on

Eonflare writes: Ever since I originally purchased my Macbook Pro, I've been plagued with various issues. At first, my machine would emit a strange buzzing noise when the notebook was held at an incline. I was first sent away, then upon a subsequent visit the Mac geniuses replaced my battery. While I wasn't able to reproduce the issue in the store after the replacement, I encountered it again later that night. The noise progressed into an extremely audiable grinding, at which point the geniuses sent the Macbook Pro away for repair. After waiting approximately two weeks for my Macbook Pro to return, a distinct but audiable grinding came about whenever my computer was under load, at which point the geniuses replaced my fans and returned my computer to me the next day.

Now, after coming home from a Super Bowl party, I find my monitor blank, and my computer powered down. Moving the mouse didn't wake the machine up. Upon examining the power cord to see if the green power light was on, I noticed the burn marks and melted plastic []. I immediately pulled the cord out of the notebook, and then unplugged it from the surge protector []. All the other devices on the surge protector seem fine, including my external hard drive, which contains the majority of my work as I didn't trust my Macbook Pro to be reliable anymore. I wonder what the geniuses will do now?

DNA to Test Theory of Roman Village in China 203

Reverse Gear writes "Many of the inhabitants of a lonely village in north western China seems to have distinctive western features. An old theory from the 50s suggests that a Roman legion lost in what is now Iran in the year 53BC lost their commanding officer. They traveled east, so the legend goes, working as mercenaries until they were caught by the Chinese 17 years later. The Chinese described them as using a 'fish-scale formation', which could be a reference to the well-known Roman phalanx technique called the 'tortoise'. The remainder of the legion, it is suggested, may have intermarried with the villagers in Liqian. Scientists are now trying to verify the fascinating theory by testing the DNA of the inhabitants of the Chinese village."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - And the winner is...

thebjorn writes: "I don't always read the EULA before installing something, but I happened to skim the one at where I went in the hope to watch the Super Bowl XLI commercials (I'm so, very, far, away...) Anyways, I especially enjoyed section 10.0:

10.0 CHANGES TO SERVICE OR EULA. GridNetworks reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to update, change, modify, add or remove any portion of the services or this agreement, in whole or in part, at any time. Changes to this agreement will be effective when posted on our website You agree to review this agreement periodically to be aware of any changes. By continuing to use the services after any changes, you agree to be bound by subsequent revisions to this agreement.
This is after the language about allowing 3rd parties to install and run "DRM" software with free access to my machine and network :-) Needless to say, I'm looking for my commercials elsewhere, but these guys really ought to get a prize..."

Submission + - U.S. DNA Collection Laws Expanded

Alchemist253 writes: The New York Times is reporting a massive increase in collection of DNA samples from people arrested or detained by federal agencies. According to the article, anyone arrested (regardless of proven guilt) will be compelled to provide DNA for archival purposes. Public opinions are mixed. From the article, "'Obviously, the bigger the DNA database, the better,' said Lynn Parrish, the spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, based in Washington." An alternative view is offered by a lawyer from the Innocence Project: "'Whereas fingerprints merely identify the person who left them,' Mr. Neufeld said, 'DNA profiles have the potential... to mine our most intimate matters.'"
United States

Submission + - Scientology critic arrested

An anonymous reader writes: Last Friday, Arizona police arrested Keith Henson, an engineer, writer and long time critic of the Church of Scientology. Back in 2001, after picketing outside Scientology's main headquarters in Hemet, California, he was convicted of "interfering with a religion", a misdemeanor under California law. Due to a number of death threats to him and his family, he escaped to Canada where he unsuccessfully tried to get political asylum. Until last Friday, it wasn't known that he was living in Prescott, Arizona, where he was arrested, after Scientology tipsters allegedly set the authorities off to his location. In response, a "Free Keith Henson" blog and a legal defense fund have been created. Depending on the result of his hearing today, he may be extradited to California.

Submission + - Laptop-only music performances?

An anonymous reader writes: As music production tools, computers are everywhere from recording and mixing to publishing. What about computers as the sole musical instrument? DJing or just playing mp3s aside, we have improvisers and orchestras (another) that treat laptop as a full-flavored instrument. What's the most interesting laptop-only live act you have seen/heard? And would you call these guys a boy band?

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