jefu writes: "One of the most fun (and most difficult) programming contests held, the ICFP Programming Contest is now open for registration. The contest itself will last from July 20 to July 23. Problems tend to be (um) difficult and will often take most of the contest period to solve well. Past problems (links to previous contest sites are available on this years web site) have ranged from building a raytracer to building a program to optimize an odd HTML like markup language (and more).
Even if you don't compete, just thinking about the problems is worthwhile and often quite instructive."
jefu writes: " A story about plagiarism popped up in my RSS feeds today in which a doctoral student is accusing her advisor of plagiarism. This was interesting enough (and regrettably does occur). But the interesting part comes from the short sentence in which the story tells that the student is proving her claim by saying she has applied for a patent on and been granted a basic patent on the idea ("Power Chip") in question. A quick search turned up the patent. It seems to cover "a psychological development system" (the kind of thing that may be found in any number of self help books) based on "quasitative" (??) research. Claim number 2 (of two) is:
A psychological development system comprising evaluating at least three things in at least three ways in at least three levels that is repeated at least three times.
and the description has nice statements like:
The power of three is universal and is the tripartite nature of the world...
All those slashdot jokes going "Wait, I'm going to patent..." may actually be patentable!"
jefu writes: "In a front page article today, the New York Times discusses "manners and blogs". They say that Tim O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales are working together to create a set of guidelines for online debate. One of the ideas put forward is banning anonymous comments. There is also a suggestion for creating "several sets of guidelines for conduct" and attaching "badges" on the page indicating what class of comments is encouraged. Not quite the same story as was covered here ."
jefu writes: "In an emerging case, doubt has been cast on the originality of classical piano recordings. It seems that CDs of piano musicby Joyce Hatto were lifted wholesale from other recordings and published as hers under her
own label. According to a NY Times op ed piece on Feb 17 not all the originals have been identified as yet. The RIAA seems ready to jump on people downloading music from the web, but this seems to indicate they may not be capable of identifying a real large scale commercial copyright infringement. Schadenfreude anyone?"
jefu writes: "The New Yorker (Feb 2) has a story on Google Books (an attempt to index every book around) and its legal problems involving copyright. Interestingly, the conclusion seems to be that Google might settle the lawsuits brought against it, and by doing so, make it more difficult for others who want to do similar things. One good quote : "The suits that are filed are a business negotiation that happens to be going on in the courts.""
jefu writes: "According to the New York Times, the US Department of Homeland Security is funding AI tools to monitor the foreign press (registration required and all that) in order to detect threats to the United States. While the article says there are restrictions on doing this kind of monitoring within the US, there are no restrictions on media outside the US. (No hint is given as to how this would apply to syndicated articles written in the US and published abroad.) This is as yet experimental."
jefu writes: In a/. story today on advertisement supported texts, there was a discussion of the expense of textbooks.
There may be an alternative : Bookmooch is a book trading site where you can send books you have
to someone who wants them, and "mooch" books from someone who has them. Total cost: Postage. There are already a good number of
technical and text books listed, as well as a wide variety of other titles. No guarantee that you'll find what you need — but if a lot of
students started using the site, the chances would surely improve.
jefu writes: There have been a few recent Slashdot articles on the Fields Medal in mathematics, and more specifically on
the Poincaré conjecture. The August 28 New Yorker has an
article on the conjecture and on two major figures involved : Gregory Perelman and Shing-Tung Yao. This article focusses
more on the people and process than on the mathematics and is quite a good read.