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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How would you introduce kids in rural India to computers?

asto21 writes: A friend of mine wants to introduce school kids in rural India to computers and could use some advice.

Key questions:
- What learning material to use and how to source?
- What programming language to start with?
- What software to introduce them to?
- What games to introduce them to?

Key constraints:
- The kids don't know much English and speak a local language called Odiya. There aren't any technical publications/resources in Odiya.
- Poor internet connectivity.
- No computer experts on the school staff.

Any other advice/help would also be appreciated. A link to the full blog post: https://sunayanachatrapathy.wo...

Submission + - Indian government to track locations of all cell phone users (indianexpress.com) 1

asto21 writes: As per amendments made to operators’ licences, beginning May 31, operators would have to provide the Department of Telecommunications real-time details of users’ locations in latitudes and longitudes.

Documents obtained by The Indian Express show that details shall initially be provided for mobile numbers specified by the government. Within three years, service providers will have to provide information on locations of all users.

The information will have some margin of error at first. But by 2013, at least 60 per cent of the calls in urban areas would have to be accurately tracked when made 100 metres away from the nearest cell tower. By 2014, the government will seek to increase the proportion to 75 per cent in cities and 50 per cent in suburban and rural areas.


Submission + - Indian govt. set to gain 'back-door' access to corporate email (livemint.com)

asto21 writes: In a move that may raise serious questions regarding the privacy of corporate emails exchanged between individuals and employees, the Indian government is all set to gain “back-door” access to emails sent and received over Research In Motion Ltd’s (RIM) BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) within the next two-three months.

“There are about 5,000 enterprises using BES in India,” the note said. “These are communications between the employees of the enterprise only and therefore are not of high concern for security or intelligence agencies.”
However, the capability of using the key to access the communications when needed is still being developed.

Meanwhile, the government is just a step away from gaining access to RIM’s widely used BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.


Submission + - Google+ launches opt-in "Find my face" feature (washingtonpost.com)

asto21 writes: From the beginning, Google has taken pains to build in privacy at the basic levels of Google+, likely learning from the missteps that competitor Facebook has made along the way.

So when Google launched a new photo-tagging feature, Find My Face, on its social network Thursday, it was a pleasant but not entirely unexpected surprise to find that Google has made the feature an opt-in.

Functionally, Find My Face is nearly identical to Facebook’s facial-recognition “Tag Suggestions” program that automatically scans pictures posted to the network and offers suggestions about who may be in the photo.

Comment Re:ROFL (Score 1) 356

No, it's not. People often confuse India as some sort of homogenous territory as far as culture is concerned. Traditions can vary greatly between different areas of the country. Personally, I have yet to meet someone here who is offended by my feet. o_0

Comment Re:ROFL (Score 1) 356

Not really. Regardless of how stupid they are, Pakistanis don't really want to die. India could wipe out Pakistan in a nuclear war significantly faster than they can take us out. What is worrying though is that China is giving them a hand with their military arsenal. Without their help, I wouldn't be surprised if Pakistan blows itself up with its weapons. It is what they're usually good at, no? :-D But all speculation apart, I really hope it doesn't come down to a nuclear (or any) war.

Submission + - Barnes and Noble wants DOJ probe into Microsoft pa (cnet.com)

asto21 writes: Barnes & Noble is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Microsoft's patent-licensing tactics, accusing the software giant of trying to thwart competition with flimsy infringement claims.

"Microsoft is attempting to raise its rivals' costs in order to drive out competition and deter innovation in mobile devices," Barnes & Noble lawyer Peter T. Barbur wrote in an October 17 letter to Gene I. Kimmelman, the chief counsel for competition policy in the Justice Department's antitrust division. "Microsoft's conduct poses serious antitrust concerns and warrants further exploration by the Department of Justice."


Submission + - What's the Best Programming Language for Kids?

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "Peter Wayner writes in the NY Times that new and more sophisticated tools are changing the way that the next generation learns to program computers as children can now create elaborate scenes and games without the cryptic commands that were once the only way to tell computers what to do. Mitchel Resnick, a professor of learning research at M.I.T.’s Media Lab who helps run the Scratch project, says that Scratch is effective with children because it fosters collaboration with about 2,000 new Scratch projects created every day, many based on the work of other students. “A third of the projects, more than 600,000, are what we call remixes. The kids are building on someone else’s work.” A similar tool from Carnegie Mellon called Alice gives children command over three-dimensional characters like the ones found in video games focusing children’s attention by giving them tiles with instructions that advance the plot of a story. With tiles like “jump” or “turn,” a student can tell a skater what to do. “We shouldn’t think of programming narrowly as a tool for a professional activity but as a means of expression,” says Resnick. “Our goal is not just for kids to grow up and get jobs as programmers. We feel that everyone should be able to express themselves with online media.”"

Submission + - Gifting my cousin an Oneiric Ocelot for his birthd (arunbalan.in)

asto21 writes: Anyway, to cut a now lengthening story short, we (my brother and I) decided to gift him Linux. That’s right, we took all the risk of trying out Linux for him.

A few days before we were to go to his house, we went over to Binary World and purchased a 500GB Western Digital Passport hard drive. I then cleared 50GB of space on it aside the NTFS partition occupying the remainder of the disk using GParted and installed Ubuntu 11.10 onto it. Why Ubuntu? – because it’s easy on n00bs and looks so pretty! Anyway, now all he would have to do is setup his BIOS so that it would boot into his portable hard drive whenever it’s plugged in to his laptop and he could use it for whatever he wanted. Neat!


Submission + - Theologian attempts censorship after losing public (wordpress.com) 3

RockDoctor writes: Theologian John Haught publicly debated prominent evolutionary scientist and atheist Jerry Coyne at the University of Kentucky back in October. Before the debate, both parties agreed to the debate being video-taped. Coyne is of the opinion that he convincingly won the debate over Haught. But we'll never know, because Haught, with the assistance of staff at University of Kentucky who sponsored the debate, is banning publication of the video of the event. They are even refusing to release the half of the debate containing Coyne's comments and questions, which is his intellectual property. And that latter is theft, plain and simple, in addition to Haught's cowardice.

Submission + - Is Google Plus deliberately crippling Opera? (arunbalan.in) 2

asto21 writes: I then wondered how it could be that a page that worked well on Firefox didn’t work the same on Opera. They both comply with the same standards don’t they? So just to make sure that there was nothing fishy going on, I got Opera to identify itself as Firefox.

And hey Presto! Opera’s got the notification/share button just like Firefox does.

What this usually means is that the server is checking the “user agent” header to serve a slightly different page to different browsers but why would they do that? As a long time fan of Google’s “do no evil” ways, I’m sure there’s a more plausible explanation than they-did-this-on-purpose-to-boost-chrome-market-share. Can anyone give me that explanation?


Submission + - Beating SMS spam with intelligent pricing rather t (arunbalan.in)

asto21 writes: So the situation as it stands now in India – in order to reduce spam, normal consumers are allowed to send only 100 SMSes per day but certain businesses are allowed to send as many as they want! How ridiculous!

How about we start pricing SMSes incrementally? Each SMS will have a price xn where n is the nth SMS of the day, and x is a modifier of TRAI’s choosing. For example, if the modifier is 1, the first SMS of the day will cost Rs 1, the second Rs 2 and the third Rs 3 and so on. The total cost for the 3 messages will be 6.

A modifier of 1 is of course a pricey proposition, but we could use a smaller modifier. My suggestion is 0.0001. 100 SMSes a day will cost Rs 0.5 approx. 200 SMSes will cost Rs 2 approx. Sending 1,00,000 SMSes though, like you would expect a marketer to do, will cost Rs 5,00,000 approx.

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