dcollins writes: Facebook has a "Download Info" capability that I've used regularly since 2010 to archive, backup, and search all the information that I've written and shared there (called "wall posts"). But I've discovered that sometime in the last few months, Facebook silently removed this largest component from the Downloaded Info, locking up all of your posted information internally where it can no longer be exported or digitally searched. Will they reverse course if this is publicized and they're pressured on the matter?
dcollins writes: "As a college instructor specializing in statistics, I felt compelled to survey one of the massive-enrollment online education courses that are all the rage these days. This summer, it seemed a perfect opportunity when Udacity unveiled Introduction to Statistics by founder Sebastian Thrun (of Google autonomous car fame). Having taken the entire course through to the final exam, my overall assessment is: It's amazingly, shockingly awful. Some nights I got seriously depressed at the notion that this might be standard fare for college lectures encountered by many students during their academic careers. I've tried to pick out the Top 10 problems with the course structure and address them in detail."
dcollins writes: "CNBC reports on a CareerBliss.com job-satisfaction survey. The #1 most hated job: Director of Information Technology. From the slideshow:
"... IT directors reported the highest level of dissatisfaction with their jobs, far surpassing that of any waitress, janitor, or bellhop. Of those who responded to the survey, one simple, five-word response summed up the antipathy very well: 'Nepotism, cronyism, disrespect for workers.'""
dcollins writes: ""Germany on Monday announced plans to become the first major industrialised power to shut down all its nuclear plants in the wake of the disaster in Japan, with a phase-out due to be wrapped up by 2022... Germany has 17 nuclear reactors on its territory, eight of which are currently off the electricity grid... Already Friday, the environment ministers from all 16 German regional states had called for the temporary order on the seven plants to be made permanent... Monday's decision is effectively a return to the timetable set by the previous Social Democrat-Green coalition government a decade ago. And it is a humbling U-turn for Merkel, who at the end of 2010 decided to extend the lifetime of Germany's 17 reactors by an average of 12 years, which would have kept them open until the mid-2030s.""
dcollins writes: Researchers at Denison University in Ohio show that giving PlayStations to young boys leads to slower progress in reading and writing skills:
"The study is the first controlled trial to look at the effects of playing video games on learning in young boys. That is to say, the findings aren't based on survey data of kids' game habits, but instead on a specific group of children that were randomly assigned to receive a PlayStation or not... Those with PlayStations also spent less time engaged in educational activities after school and showed less advancement in their reading and writing skills over time than the control group, according to tests taken by the kids. While the game-system owners didn't show significant behavioral problems, their teachers did report delays in learning academic skills, including writing and spelling."
dcollins writes: "The college where I work has decided to forego ordering a textbook for the computer class that I teach this fall. Does anyone know of a free, open-source textbook for basic computer literacy concepts (overview of hardware, software, operating systems, and file systems)?"
dcollins writes: "From the AP: "Lawmakers in at least eight states want recipients of food stamps, unemployment benefits or welfare to submit to random drug testing... 'Nobody's being forced into these assistance programs,' said Craig Blair, a Republican in the West Virginia Legislature who has created a Web site — notwithmytaxdollars.com — that bears a bobble-headed likeness of himself advocating this position. 'If so many jobs require random drug tests these days, why not these benefits?'" ( http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090326/ap_on_bi_ge/states_welfare_with_strings )
I don't usually think that "slippery slope"-type arguments are that much of an actual danger, but here we find a lawmaker directly making that proposal as a straight-faced call to action."
dcollins writes: In 2000 the 3rd Edition of D&D came in conjunction with an Open Gaming Licence (OGL), modelled on the GPL with the same business motivations ( http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/md/md20020228e ). Today it was revealed, in a turnabout from comments as recently as last week, that there will be no OGL for the upcoming 4th Edition of D&D. Instead there will be a "Game System License" with many more restrictions on its use — for example, no third-party publishers in 2008 without a $5,000 advance license fee ( http://www.enworld.org/showthread.php?t=218031 ).
An Erie cancer researcher has found a way to burn salt water, a novel invention that is being touted by one chemist as the "most remarkable" water science discovery in a century.
John Kanzius happened upon the discovery accidentally when he tried to desalinate seawater with a radio-frequency generator he developed to treat cancer. He discovered that as long as the salt water was exposed to the radio frequencies, it would burn.
The discovery has scientists excited by the prospect of using salt water, the most abundant resource on earth, as a fuel.
dcollins writes: Numerous Slashdot threads turn into a debate over who's liable for faulty software: the programmers, the publisher, etc. Here's a new option: perhaps the users are themselves criminally liable. From the AP: ( http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070719/ap_on_fe_st/ge nerous_slot_machine ): "Prosecutors are considering criminal charges against casino gamblers who won big on a slot machine that had been installed with faulty software... A decision on whether to bring criminal charges could come in a couple of weeks, said John Colin, chief deputy prosecutor for Harrison County. He said 'criminal intent' may be involved when people play a machine they know is faulty."