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Submission + - Barnes & Noble Now Recruiting Windows 8 Engineers for New Nooks (

Nate the greatest writes: Everyone is all excited today about the new B&N Nook HD and Nook HD+, a pair of beautiful Android tablets with 7" and 9" screens. But while we're all paying attention to the new gadgets B&N is already looking to the next generation. There's a new job posting on one of B&N's websites today. They're recruiting a new Director of Engineering for Windows 8. The new guy's job will be to work to integrate the nook platform with Widows 8 as well as Microsoft's other ecosystems. It's not completely clear yet what this means but one can always dream. MetroNook, anyone?

Submission + - Phil Schiller: iPhone 5 scratches and chips are normal (

An anonymous reader writes: For any brand new product that you’ve paid hundreds of dollars to purchase, damage out the box is totally unacceptable. But as far as Apple is concerned, it looks like you’re just going to have to accept the iPhone 5 is prone to damage.

That’s the view of Phil Schiller at least, Apple’s president of marketing. He’s probably been getting more than a few emails from iPhone 5 owners complaining about the damage to the aluminum casing, so he decided to respond to one of them. His explanation is not going to make many people very happy. Schiller briefly explains that aluminum will scratch or chip and “that is normal.” That’s all he had to say on the matter and it suggests he thinks iPhone 5 owners just need to accept it is going to happen.

Submission + - Anonymous to Revive Demonoid, Avenge Closure (

hypnosec writes: Anonymous, the notorious hactivist group, has sworn to avenge the closure of Demonoid through actions on responsible authorities and to revive the torrent sharing and tracking site. Anonymous, through its common DDoS tactics and operation codenamed #OpDemonoid, hammered several Ukrainian government-owned websites rendering them offline for some time. The group’s long term goal is to restore Demonoid and its operationsby getting mirror sites hosted across the globe by members and ultimately creating a group called “open-source Demonoid”.

Submission + - Too little critical thinking in college (

Joe_Dragon writes: Has college become too easy?
March 25, 2012|Clarence Page


You can lead a student to knowledge, according to an old academic saying, but you can't make him or her think.

I recently wrote about the possibility of testing and certification for what I called a "college-level GED." Like the current GED test for high school equivalency, it would award certification to bright, hardworking job applicants who want to show potential employers how much they know, even though they never graduated from college.

I heard from a number of readers who supported the idea. Some were eager to take the test now, if they could. But the most thoughtful question I received went like this: What about the "critical thinking" skills that we traditionally expect campus academic life to teach and encourage?

I agree. Critical thinking is the brain's investigative reporter. It questions assumptions and requires more than the memory to pass most standardized tests.

But we do have tests for that. For example, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, launched in 2000, gives a 90-minute essay test to freshmen and seniors that aims to measure gains in critical thinking and communication skills.

However, recent studies of CLA results reveal another major problem, not so much in the testing of critical thinking as in how little critical thinking is being taught.

One new book, "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," by sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, questions whether a large chunk of today's college students are learning much on campus that they didn't already know.

Following CLA results and other data for 2,300 students at 24 public and private colleges, Arum, of New York University, and Roksa, of the University of Virginia, startled the academic world with their finding that 36 percent of students made no significant learning gains in critical thinking and communication skills from their freshman to senior years.

That tends to confirm what reader Jerre Levy, a retired University of Chicago professor of psychology, wrote: "I wish with all my heart that a college degree implied that the person holding that degree was capable of critical thinking. However, this is, sadly, not true."

Among the jaw-dropping examples Levy related in her email to me and a later phone call was a senior who reacted with memorable resentment to a two-week take-home assignment to critically evaluate a scientific journal article.

The professor specifically requested a hard-eyed assessment of strengths and weaknesses in the article's sources, methods and conclusions. She did not, repeat, not want students simply to summarize the contents. She stipulated that last part in capital letters.

Yet when the students returned their papers, she recalled, one offered nothing but what Levy said she didn't want: "a content summary, without a single evaluative statement." When the student complained about her zero grade, Levy explained the goose egg. The student argued back indignantly, "But that would have required THINKING!"

It was the winter quarter of her senior year, the young woman explained, and she could memorize as much as any professor gave her and earn As and Bs but, until this course, she had "never been required to think!"

"If students can get a degree from the University of Chicago without having either the will or capacity to think," Levy said, "then it is certainly true of less selective universities and colleges."

Ohio University's Richard Vedder, my former economics professor who gave me the collegiate GED test idea, is even more blunt in his assessment of today's academia: "Universities are becoming more like country clubs," he said, with climbing walls, indoor tracks and other luxuries that give students "something else to do with their free time besides drink and have sex."

Vedder, who divides his time between teaching, researching as an adjunct scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and directing the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, blames grade inflation and other perverse incentives, like too much free time.

That would be just another reason for us Americans to develop more innovative alternatives to college, like alternative GED-style certifications of what individuals actually know and how eagerly they will learn, not just how many classes they have taken.

It's worth thinking about.

Clarence Page, a member of the Tribune's editorial board, blogs at

Twitter @cptime


Submission + - Collecting DNA from arrestees unconstitutional ( 1

wiedzmin writes: A California appeals court is striking down a voter-approved measure requiring every adult arrested on a felony charge to submit a DNA sample. Court questioned the extent to which technology can be permitted to diminish the privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment. More than 1.6 million samples have been taken following the law’s 2009 implementation. Only about a half of those arrested in California are convicted.

Submission + - Canadian academics and advocates on lawful access (

An anonymous reader writes: During the last election cycle, Canada's governing party assured Canadians that within 100 sitting days lawful access provisions would be passed in an omnibus crime bill. Lawful access legislation has not been fully debated in the House or Senate, and has significant implications for the future of anonymity and privacy on the Internet, while simultaneously expanding police powers without a clearly demonstrated need to expand such powers.

Working from the most recent lawful access bills, advocates and academics have come together to send a letter of concerns to Prime Minister Harper. The letter notes: the ease at which Canadians' communications providers will be turned into state surveillance operatives, lack of oversight accompanying these new powers, capacity to force identification of anonymous commentators, and potential to impose gag orders on communications providers.

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