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Are Indian High Schoolers Manning Your IBM Help Desk? 237

theodp writes "IBM CEO Virginia M. Rometty's Big Blue bio boasts that she led the development of IBM Global Delivery Centers in India. In his latest column, Robert X. Cringely wonders if customers of those centers know what they're getting for their outsourcing buck. 'Right now,' writes Cringely, 'IBM is preparing to launch an internal program with the goal of increasing in 2013 the percentage of university graduates working at its Indian Global Delivery Centers (GDCs) to 50 percent. This means that right now most of IBM's Indian staffers are not college graduates. Did you know that? I didn't. I would be very surprised if IBM customers knew they were being supported mainly by graduates of Indian high schools.'"

Video Plantronics Helps Make Remote Workers' Lives Easier (Video) 233

If you're working at home or from a coffee shop or, really, anyplace outside your company's offices, they need to hear you when you talk, and you need to hear them. The same goes for dealing with clients via VOIP or video, the two communications techologies that seem to be driving POTS into obsolescence faster than we thought possible just a few years ago. In this video, Plantronics PR person Karen Auby -- who works remotely most of the time herself -- explains how Plantronics products help make work easier in a world of "unified communications."

Earthscraper Takes Sustainable Design Underground 269

Hugh Pickens writes"The 'Earthscraper,' a 65-story, 82,000-square-foot inverted pyramid beneath Mexico City takes a new approach to escalating megacity problems like population growth, urban sprawl, preserving open space, and conserving energy and water, promising to turn the modern high-rise, quite literally, on its head. The proposed building will be located at the Zocalo, Mexico City's major public plaza one of the few sizable open spaces left in the city of 9 million. 'It's a massive empty plot, which makes it the ideal site for our program,' says architect Esteban Suarez. The Earthscraper concept begins with a glass roof replacing the opaque stone surface of the Zocalo preserving the open space and civic uses of the Zocalo, while allowing natural lighting to flow downward into all floors of the tapering structure through clear or translucent core walls. The first 10 stories would hold a museum dedicated to the city's history and its artifacts. 'We'd almost certainly find plenty of interesting relics during the dig — dating right back to the Aztecs who built their own pyramids here,' says Suarez adding that the design incorporates a system of gardens occurring roughly every 10 stories, to help generate fresh air. One thing working in Earthscraper's favor is there are strict laws that prevent building upwards in this part of Mexico City, but no laws for building down. 'They will have to develop new laws to stop this from happening,' says Chief Design Officer Emilio Barja. 'I hope they don't [find the] time to do that.'"

Why Computer Voices Are Mostly Female 276

PolygamousRanchKid writes with an article exploring the question posed in the headline, which says that "One answer may lie in biology. Scientific studies have shown that people generally find women's voices more pleasing than men's. 'It's much easier to find a female voice that everyone likes than a male voice that everyone likes,' said Stanford University Professor Clifford Nass, author of 'The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships. 'It's a well-established phenomenon that the human brain is developed to like female voices.' One notable exception has been Germany, where BMW was forced to recall a female-voiced navigation system on its 5 Series cars in the late 1990s after being flooded with calls from German men saying they refused to take directions from a woman. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on why the company gave Siri a female voice in the U.S. Nor would she say why Siri speaks like a man in the UK, where iPhone 4S owners have swarmed online forums to request a female voice instead."

Ask Slashdot: Becoming a Network Administrator? 480

J. L. Tympanum writes "After many years as a star programmer, I have taken a position which involves maintaining and rebuilding the in-house network of a small company. There are maybe 100 machines, a mix of blade servers running Linux and desktop PCs running Windows of all flavors. Basically, I have to learn networking from scratch. I have been given an 'unlimited' budget to buy routers, switches, etc., to set up my own little test network as part of the learning process. So the question is: what's the right strategy here? What routers or switches or other equipment should I acquire? What books should I read? Should I take classes from Cisco, Global Knowledge, my local community college, or somewhere else?"

NJ Server Farms Remake the US Financial Markets 216

1sockchuck writes "The engine of Wall Street has shifted from the stock exchange floor to data centers in New Jersey, where computer-driven trading now accounts for 56 percent of all trading activity, according to the New York Times. 'While this Tron landscape is dominated by the titans of Wall Street, it affects nearly everyone who owns shares of stock or mutual funds, or who has a stake in a pension fund or works for a public company,' the Times writes. 'For better or for worse, part of your wealth, your livelihood, is throbbing through these wires.' There are also photos of the data centers powering the high-speed trading operations, while 60 Minutes has video of a huge new 'liquidity center' run by the NYSE."
The Internet

Meet NELL, the Computer That Learns From the Net 272

bossanovalithium writes "Carnegie Mellon University has taught a computer how to read and learn from the internet. According to Dennis Baron at the Oxford University press blog, the computer is called NELL and it is reading the internet and learning from it in much the same way that humans learn language and acquire knowledge. Basically by soaking it all up and figuring it out. NELL is short for Never Ending Language Learner and apparently it is getting brainier every day."

Canon Abandons SED TV Hopes 120

angry tapir writes "Canon has decided to liquidate a subsidiary developing a flat-panel display technology called SED, effectively bringing to an end once high hopes that the screens would replace LCD panels and plasma displays in living room TVs. Development of SED (surface-condition electron-emitter display) screens began in 1986 at Canon and was joined in 1999 by Toshiba. SEDs combine elements of both CRT (cathode ray tube) and LCD (liquid crystal display) technologies. As with CRTs, electrons hit a phosphor-coated screen to emit light. But instead of being shot from an electron gun, electrons are drawn out of an emitter through a slit that is only a few nanometers wide. The result is a picture that is as bright as a CRT and does not suffer a time lag sometimes seen on LCD panels with rapidly moving images."

Comment Re:Did anybody post this yet? (Score 4, Insightful) 878

How incredibly arrogant. I would totally hire a semiskilled carpenter to put up a tool shed in the back yard. Not so much a NYC high rise. I would also gladly hire an apprentice electrician to put in a new overhead light fixture, but not to wire up my 440v industrial machinery.

There's nothing dangerous about semiskilled programming, providing they are doing work that is appropriate for semiskilled programmers. I'm no more going to hire Thomas Knoll to write my company's Human Resources app than I'm going to personally apply for a job writing the next version of whatever the NYSE is using.


Verizon Charged Marine's Widow an Early Termination Fee 489

In a decision that was reversed as soon as someone with half a brain in their PR department learned about it, Verizon charged a widow a $350 early termination fee. After the death of her marine husband, Michaela Brummund decided to move back to her home town to be with her family. Verizon doesn't offer any coverage in the small town so Michaela tried to cancel her contract, only to be hit with an early termination fee. From the article: "'I called them to cancel. I told them the situation with my husband. I even said I would provide a death certificate,' Michaela said."

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