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Submission + - If Star Wars Keeps Girls Out of CS, Why is Code.org Putting it in Classrooms?

theodp writes: Eliminating Star Wars items and videogames from classrooms, suggests a widely-publicized research paper entitled Computing Whether She Belongs: Stereotypes Undermine Girls’ Interest and Sense of Belonging in Computer Science, "may play a significant role in communicating a feeling of belonging to girls and help to reduce current gender disparities in STEM courses." But now — just a month after the New York Times repeated the warnings of the dangers of Star Wars in the classroom — tech billionaire-backed Code.org has announced a partnership with Lucasfilm to make Star Wars videogame-themed coding tutorials available to every U.S. classroom during this December's Hour of Code (a week before The Force Awakens premieres) in an effort to encourage more girls to code. Which certainly seems to contradict the conventional unconscious bias wisdom. "Items such as stacked soda cans, Star Trek and Star Wars images and paraphernalia, video game boxes, comics, science fiction books, electronics, and computer parts communicate a lower sense of belonging to women than men," explains the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT). "Attracting more female high school students to computer science classes might be as easy as tossing out the Star Wars posters," NCWIT added in an Aug. 29th Facebook post. So, why was NCWIT dissing Star Wars in the classroom at the same time its partner Code.org was working on the mother-of-all Star Wars classroom events? Well, it could simply be that NCWIT was clueless about the Star Wars: Building a Galaxy with Code project. "We began the work at the beginning of the summer," explained Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi, "and due to Lucasfilm’s strict requirements on secrecy we had only a few people at Code.org who even knew about the project, and they had to work in a locked room with no windows so that nobody else could find out." By the way, a cynic might suggest that Lucasfilm and Disney — which provided the Code.org Frozen-themed tutorial used by President Obama last year — might have 435 million good reasons for wanting to see more kids code.

Submission + - UK plans to allow warrantless searches of Internet history. (telegraph.co.uk)

whoever57 writes: The UK government plans to require ISPs and telcoms companies to maintain browsing and email history of UK residents for a period of 12 months and make the data available to police on request without a warrant. "The new powers would allow the police to seize details of the website and searches being made by people they wanted to investigate. " Exactly how they expect the ISPs to provide search histories now that most Google searches use SSL isn't explained (and probably not even considered by those proposing the legislation). Similarly with gmail and other email providers using SMTP TLS and IMAPS, much email is opaque to ISPs. Will this drive more use of VPNs and TOR?
Space

Submission + - No Intelligent Aliens Detected in Gliese 581 (discovery.com)

astroengine writes: "Using an Australian very long baseline array (VLBA) of three radio antennae, the first very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) campaign has been carried out on a SETI target star: the famous Gliese 581 red dwarf. However, after 8 hours of observing the star — thought to play host to six exoplanets, two of which are in the star's "habitable zone" — no alien signals were detected. This result isn't surprising, as the likelihood of us stumbling across intelligent aliens living in the Gliese 581 system transmitting radio is extremely slim, but it does validate VLBI as a very exciting means of using the vast amount of exoplanetary data (coming from missions such as the Kepler space telescope) for "directed SETI" projects."

Submission + - NYPD Cop posing as 14-year-old girl online catches NY Police Sergeant (timesunion.com)

McGruber writes: The Albany, NY Times Union has a story that you are not likely to see on "Cops", the Fox television show: "A sting operation involving a New York City police officer posing as a 14-year-old girl" that resulted in the arrest of a 26-year veteran police sergeant, on charges accusing him of committing computer crimes dangerous to minors. The sergeant was arrested Friday morning when he arrived for work at police headquarters and was handcuffed while in uniform.
Businesses

Submission + - SpaceX Brownsville Space Port Opposed by Texas Environmentalists (yahoo.com)

MarkWhittington writes: "The proposed SpaceX space port in Brownsville, Texas, has run into opposition from an environmental group. Environment Texas is conducting a petition drive to stop the project. According to a news release by the group, the proposed space port, which would include a launch pad and control and spacecraft processing facilities, would be "almost surrounded" by a park and wildlife refuge. Environment Texas claims the launching of rockets would "scare the heck" out of every creature in the area and would "spray noxious chemicals all over the place." The petition will demand SpaceX build the space port elsewhere."
Your Rights Online

Submission + - Why the GPL licensing cops are the good guys (infoworld.com)

rtfa-troll writes: 'GPL enforcement by Software Freedom Conservancy puts electronics makers on notice, leaves business users untouched', says Infoworld, going on to explain 'You are several orders of magnitude more likely to be raided by your proprietary suppliers, in the form of the Business Software Alliance, than to ever hear from SFC, let alone face any action. License compliance is a major and costly issue for proprietary software, but the case concerns an end-user license agreement (EULA), not a source license.' the expertly written article gives a good summary of why having GPL licenses enforced helps everybody except for 'hardware manufacturers — typically those creating low-cost consumer and business electronics' who need to verify that they pass on the same rights to others as they received with the original code.

Submission + - Geezers (over 55 years) pick stronger passwords than youngins (under 25) (newscientist.com)

McGruber writes: Joseph Bonneau, a computer scientist at the University of Cambridge, calculated the password strengths of nearly 70 million Yahoo! users. He compared the strengths of passwords chosen by different demographic groups and compared the results.

People over the age of 55 pick passwords double the strength of those chosen by people under 25 years old.

Google

Submission + - Google going to paid-only product search (blogspot.com)

DogDude writes: Like the subject says: Google is moving to paid-only product search. It has always been free to submit items to Google, but that all changes this fall. Here's a blog post announcing the change from the Vice President of Product Management of Google Shopping

Submission + - Machine Learning Algorithms to Crack Morse Code (blogspot.com)

mni12 writes: "Morse code has been used since early 1840's and is still a very popular mode of communication especially among ham radio operators. While it takes some effort for humans to learn Morse code it is a very efficient way in communicating short messages over radio waves, especially under noise, interference, propagation fading or other adverse conditions. Experienced human operators can easily outperform any publicly available Morse decoding software.
I have done some experiments with machine learning algorithms, especially with Self Organizing Maps (SOM) applied to real-time decoding Morse code in real world noise & interference filled signals. Early test results look promising but I would like to turn to Slashdot community for some advice and ideas.

What kind of machine learning algorithms would be applicable for real time Morse decoder when signals contain a lot of noise, interference from other stations, fading, irregular timing and other problematic features?"

Education

Submission + - Speech Recognition using the Raspberry Pi (aonsquared.co.uk)

aonsquared writes: "In a previous slashdot story I demonstrated a voice-controlled robotic arm using the open-source speech decoder Julius. This time, I have managed to port the system to a Raspberry Pi to control the same robotic arm, and as usual, posted the tutorial and source code. Some negative reviews of the Raspberry Pi are starting to appear, and they're missing the educational point of this device — I'm hoping this will counter the naysayers, and help inspire a new generation of hackers, as well as also bring open-source speech recognition the same attention as proprietary solutions (i.e Siri) are getting!"
Windows

Submission + - Build your own supercomputer (pcpro.co.uk)

Barence writes: "PC Pro has a feature explaining how a home-brew approach can provide a usable measure of supercomputing power at a comparatively realistic price. The feature explores how it's possible to create 16-core and upward home computers with clustering, even using a hotchpotch of systems including netbooks, laptops, workstations and high-performance servers.

"Windows-based clusters can be assembled quite easily using the Windows HPC Server 2008 operating system, and Microsoft provides guidelines for creating 'cluster-aware' applications that will make use of cluster resources when run on such a system," the feature explains. "Alternatively, there are various free Linux distributions that are designed for clustering, such as openMosix and ClusterKnoppix. These provide a user-friendly experience that makes it almost effortless to set up a cluster of any size using the popular Beowulf system.""

Censorship

Submission + - Google Mail now blocked in China

An anonymous reader writes: For some time, access to Gmail has been deliberately "delayed" in China.
Since about 6pm on Friday, local time it has been completely blocked. The login screen "may" come up, but login itself just times out.

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