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New Zealand To Allow 'Text-Speak' On Exams 421

ScentCone writes "New Zealand's Qualification Authority (which sets testing standards for the public schools) is confident that those grading papers will understand the meaning of students' responses, even if they use phone/IM-style text-speak. From the article: 'credit will be given if the answer "clearly shows the required understanding," even if it contains text-speak.' Many teachers are not amused, and critics say that the move will devalue NZ's equivalent of a high school diploma." Not to mention that graders will need to be restrained so they don't gouge their own eyes out. While in the medium of text messages, some shorthand might be in order, but I didn't realize that world paper, pencil, and ink shortages were so severe so that text-speak is necessary everywhere.

U.S. Secretly Tapping Bank Databases 537

The Washington Post and New York Times are reporting on a Bush administration initiative that has tapped into a vast global database of confidential financial transactions for nearly five years. Relying on a presidential emergency declaration made under the International Emergency Economic Powers, the administration has been surveilling the data from the SWIFT database, which links about 7,800 banks and brokerages and handles billions of transactions a year. From the article:
Together with a hundredfold expansion of the FBI's use of "national security letters" to obtain communications and banking records, the secret NSA and Treasury programs have built unprecedented government databases of private transactions, most of them involving people who prove irrelevant to terrorism investigators.

New Disclaimer for the Internet 113

Techdirt has an amusing new disclaimer for the internet penned by lawyer David Canton is response to Rob Hyndman's recent discovery of an impressive disclaimer for a rock preserve. From the disclaimer: "Business is unpredictable and unsafe. The Internet is dangerous. Many blogs have been written about these dangers, and there's no way we can list them all here. Read the blogs. The Internet is covered in slippery slopes with loose, slippery and unpredictable footing. The RIAA can make matters worse. Patent trolls are everywhere. You may fall, be spammed or suffer a DOS attack. There are hidden viruses and worms. You could break your computer. There is wild code, which may be vicious, poisonous or carriers of dread malware. These include viruses and worms. E-mail can be poisonous as well. We don't do anything to protect you from any of this. We do not inspect, supervise or maintain the Internet, blogosphere, ISP's or other features, natural or otherwise."

10 Years of Neon Genesis Evangelion 312

smooth wombat writes "Mainichi Daily News has a lengthy, multi-part article on the history of Neon Genesis Evangelion. The article looks back at the 10 years since Evangelion appeared and how it changed the world of manga." From the article: "In a series of 26 episodes, Evangelion told the story of a 14-year-old boy called Shinji Ikari, who piloted a biomechanical combat robot called an Evangelion, which fought against mysterious extraterrestrial monsters known as Angels. But Shinji was also a regular junior high school pupil, and his school life featured strongly in the anime's plot too. As did psychotherapy and the Old Testament, which director Hideaki Anno attributed as influences while creating the series. Evangelion become a huge hit across Japan, attracting fans across generations, sparking a massive public debate over its controversial final episode -- which many criticized for leaving the work unfinished -- and sparking unprecedented merchandising sales that set the scene for the current manga market."

Lessons from the Browser Wars 212

An anonymous reader writes to mention a piece on the Harvard Business School site talking about Lessons from the Browser Wars; specifically, what can be learned about first-mover advantages and the upsurge in Firefox use? From the article: "As a tool for exploring how standards are set when new technologies hit the market, the browser wars exhibit many features we like to study: competition between two viable alternatives, rapidly improving technologies, the ability of firms to use strategic levers such as market power and channels of distribution, growth in demand leading to diffusion of the new technology through the population, and uncertainty. Thus, this is one example from which we can generalize lessons regarding the outcome of diffusion of innovation into a market."

Triple Boot on MacBooks Working 242

MikeTheMan writes "By now, everyone probably heard that Apple's recently-released Boot Camp software allows users to install Windows XP alongside OS X. But now, people at have discovered how to triple-boot OS X, Windows XP, and Linux. There are instructions on the Wiki for getting Gentoo running, but it is probably trivial to get other distros working as well."

China Bans Running Your Own Email Server 304

Erwin_D writes "Under the guise of banning spam, China has ruled that running your own e-mail server has been banned, unless you have a license. To qualify for such a license, an 'e-mail service provider' must abide by some chilling rules: all e-mail must be stored for two months, and e-mail with discussing vaguely defined subject as network security or information security may not be transmitted. While the rules contains all the good measures we would all like to see to combat spam, such as prohibiting open relays and outlawing zombie network, the law is also geared toward controlling free speech. From the article: 'I believe that the intent to have an antispam regulation was a good one ... Unfortunately, it seems like during the policy formulation process, it got hijacked and went to one extreme.'"

Sanitizing Expression In Virtual Worlds 516

1up has a piece looking back at the GLBT guild mixup that happened earlier this year in World of Warcraft. From the article: "'... last summer a friend introduced me to WOW, and I really liked it, though I didn't care for remarks many of the players made, like the fact that everything is apparently so gay when it's bad. So I decided to create my own guild, which would be GLBT friendly.' Sometimes singing, other times slogging her way through WOW's exacting echelons to a formidable level 60, Andrews had big endgame plans for her developing guild--until January 12, 2006, that is, when a note from publisher Blizzard blinkered everything."

Pirates of The Carribean MMOG in 2007 64

Gamasutra reports on an update to the Pirates of the Carribean MMOG currently in the works at Disney. The current plan is for a 2007 release, with some teasers and information upcoming at this year's E3. From the article: "The game will allow players to interact with movie characters such as Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, as well as allowing users to create their own custom pirate avatar, form a crew and captain a ship."

AT&T Seeks to Hide Spy Docs 157

UltimaGuy writes to mention a Wired article about some AT&T documents that have gone off the farm. An ex-employee provided some information to the EFF, to assist in their wiretapping case against the company. Ma Bell is now arguing the files are confidential, and shouldn't be used in a court case. From the article: "The documents, which the EFF filed under a temporary seal last Wednesday, purportedly detail how AT&T diverts internet traffic to the National Security Agency via a secret room in San Francisco and allege that such rooms exist in other AT&T switching centers."

ICANN Meeting Puts Off XXX Domain Again 157

An anonymous reader wrote to mention an International Herald story about a recent ICANN meeting on the proposed .XXX domain. Australia, the U.S., and the EU have moved to block the idea, with most commentators surmising this will prevent the concept from ever moving forward. From the article: "Some people maintain that a triple-x domain name, and the ability to enforce rules to qualify for it, would rein in an out-of-control Internet phenomenon. In registering, a company could have to abide by ratings agency standards, require proof of age for entrants, maybe even pay for Internet filtering research. The company pushing the idea, ICM Registry, also argues that dot-xxx would be good for customers of pornography sites, assuring them of certain business benchmarks, like being free of adware or computer viruses."

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