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The Internet

Rushkoff Proposes We Fork the Internet 487

Shareable writes "Douglas Rushkoff: 'The moment the "net neutrality" debate began was the moment the net neutrality debate was lost. For once the fate of a network — its fairness, its rule set, its capacity for social or economic reformation — is in the hands of policymakers and the corporations funding them — that network loses its power to effect change. The mere fact that lawmakers and lobbyists now control the future of the net should be enough to turn us elsewhere.' And he goes on to suggest citizens fork the Internet & makes a call for ideas how to do that."
Medicine

Young Men Who Smoke Have Lower IQs 561

Hugh Pickens writes "Science Daily reports on a study that has determined that young men who smoke are likely to have lower IQs than their non-smoking peers. In the study, conducted with 20,000 Israeli Army recruits and veterans, the average IQ for a non-smoker was about 101, while the smokers' average was more than seven IQ points lower at about 94, and the IQs of young men who smoked more than a pack a day were lower still, at about 90. (These IQs all fall within the normal range.) 'In the health profession, we've generally thought that smokers are most likely the kind of people to have grown up in difficult neighborhoods, or who've been given less education at good schools,' says Prof. Mark Weiser of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychiatry, whose study was reported in a recent version of the journal Addiction. 'Because our study included subjects with diverse socio-economic backgrounds, we've been able to rule out socio-economics as a major factor. The government might want to rethink how it allocates its educational resources on smoking.' Prof. Weiser says that the study illuminates a general trend in epidemiological studies. 'People on the lower end of the average IQ tend to display poorer overall decision-making skills when it comes to their health,' says Weiser. 'Schoolchildren who have been found to have a lower IQ can be considered at risk to begin the habit, and can be targeted with special education and therapy to prevent them from starting or to break the habit after it sets in.'"
Earth

Gas Wants To Kill the Wind 479

RABarnes writes "Scientific American has posted an article about the political efforts of natural gas and electric utilities to limit the growth of wind-generated electricity. Although several of the points raised by the utilities and carbon-based generators are valid, the basic driver behind their efforts is that wind-generation has now successfully penetrated the wholesale electricity market. Wind was okay until it became a meaningful competitor to the carbon dioxide-producing entities. Among the valid points raised by the carbon-based generators are concerns about how the cost of electricity transmission are allocated and how power quality can be improved (wind generation — from individual sites — is hopelessly variable). But there are fixes for all of the concerns raised by the carbon-based entities and in almost all cases they have been on the other side of the question in the past."
Editorial

Suspension of Disbelief 507

Frequent Slashdot Contributor Bennett Haselton writes in "A federal judge rules that a student can seek attorney's fees against a high school principal who suspended her for a Facebook page she made at home. Good news, but how could the school have thought they had the right to punish her for that in the first place? Posing the question not rhetorically but seriously. What is the source of society's attitudes toward the free-speech rights of 17-year-olds?"
Graphics

Why Flash Is Fundamentally Flawed On Touchscreen Devices 521

An anonymous reader passes along this excerpt from Roughly Drafted: "I'm a full-time Flash developer and I'd love to get paid to make Flash sites for the iPad. I want that to make sense — but it doesn't. Flash on the iPad will not (and should not) happen — and the main reason, as I see it, is one that never gets talked about: current Flash sites could never be made to work well on any touchscreen device, and this cannot be solved by Apple, Adobe, or magical new hardware. That's not because of slow mobile performance, battery drain or crashes. It's because of the hover or mouseover problem. ... All that Apple and Adobe could ever do is make current Flash content visible. It would be seen, but very often would not work."
Image

Scientists Say a Dirty Child Is a Healthy Child Screenshot-sm 331

Researchers from the School of Medicine at the University of California have shown that the more germs a child is exposed to, the better their immune system in later life. Their study found that keeping a child's skin too clean impaired the skin's ability to heal itself. From the article: "'These germs are actually good for us,' said Professor Richard Gallo, who led the research. Common bacterial species, known as staphylococci, which can cause inflammation when under the skin, are 'good bacteria' when on the surface, where they can reduce inflammation."
Books

Why Amazon's Kindle Should Use Open Standards 315

Tim O'Reilly wrote in Forbes a while back that he thinks the Kindle only has another two or three years of life left, unless Amazon wises up and embraces open standards. He came to this conclusion, in part, because of his experience deciding how to publish documents on the web back in the mid-1990s. "You see, I'd recently been approached by the folks at the Microsoft Network. They'd identified O'Reilly as an interesting specialty publisher, just the kind of target that they hoped would embrace the Microsoft Network (or MSN, as it came to be called). The offer was simple: Pay Microsoft a $50,000 fee plus a share of any revenue, and in return it would provide this great platform for publishing, with proprietary publishing tools and file formats that would restrict our content to users of the Microsoft platform. The only problem was we'd already embraced the alternative: We had downloaded free Web server software and published documents using an open standards format. That meant anyone could read them using a free browser. While MSN had better tools and interfaces than the primitive World Wide Web, it was clear to us that the Web's low barriers to entry would help it to evolve more quickly, would bring in more competition and innovation, and would eventually win the day."
Cellphones

iPhone Shakes Up the Video Game Industry 325

Hugh Pickens writes "Troy Wolverton writes in the Mercury News that in less than a year, the iPhone has become a significant game platform, but its bigger impact could be to help change the way the game industry does business. 'It's got everything you need to be a game changer,' said Neil Young, co-founder and CEO of ngmoco, which develops games solely for the iPhone. With a year under its belt and an installed base of iPhone and iPod Touch owners at around forty million, the iPhone/iPod Touch platform has eclipsed next-gen console penetration numbers and started to catch up to the worldwide penetration of both Sony's (50 million) and Nintendo's (100 million) devices. Wolverton writes that not only is the iPhone one of the first widely successful gaming platforms in which games are completely digitally distributed, but on the iPhone, consumers can find more games updated more often, and at a cheaper cost per game than what they'd find on a typical dedicated game console. While an ordinary top-of-the-line game for Microsoft's Xbox 360 sells for about $60, and one for Nintendo's DS about $30, a top-of-the-line iPhone game typically sells for no more than $10. With traditional games, developers might wait a year or two between major releases; ngmoco is planning on releasing new versions of its games for the iPhone every four to five months. 'You have to think differently,' says Young. 'It's redefining what it means to be a publisher in this world.'"
Programming

HTML 5 Takes Aim At Flash and Silverlight 500

snydeq writes "While Adobe, Microsoft, and Sun duke it out with proprietary technologies for implementing multimedia on the Web, HTML 5 has the potential to eat these vendors' lunches, offering Web experiences based on an industry standard. In fact, one expressed goal of the standard is to move the Web away from proprietary technologies such as Flash, Silverlight, and JavaFX. 'It would be a terrible step backward if humanity's major development platform [the Web] was controlled by a single vendor the way that previous platforms such as Windows have been,' says HTML 5 co-editor Ian Hickson, a Google employee. But whether HTML 5 and its Canvas technology will displace proprietary plug-ins 'really depends on what developers do,' says Firefox technical lead Vlad Vukicevic. It also depends on Microsoft, the only company involved in the HTML 5 effort that is both a browser developer and an RIA tool developer. 'That's a big elephant in the room for them because you can imagine the Silverlight team [whose] whole existence is to add [this] functionality in. [But] if Internet Explorer puts it already in there, why do we have Silverlight?' asks Mozilla's Dion Almaer." The RIA guys are quoted as saying they're not worried, because HTML 5 + CSS 3 is 10 years out. Are they just whistling in the dark?
Education

The Case For Working With Your Hands 386

theodp writes "At a time when the question of what a good job looks like is wide open, a book excerpt in the NY Times magazine says it's time to take a fresh look at the trades. High-school shop-class programs were dismantled in the '90s as educators prepared students to become 'knowledge workers' in a pure information economy. Was this a huge mistake? A gifted young person who chooses to become a mechanic instead of accumulating academic credentials is now viewed as eccentric, if not self-destructive, complains Matthew Crawford, who took his University of Chicago PhD and opened a motorcycle repair shop. Princeton economist Alan Blinder argues that the crucial distinction in the emerging labor market is not between those with more or less education, but between those whose services can be delivered over a wire and those who must do their work in person or on site. The latter will find their livelihoods more secure against outsourcing to distant countries. As Blinder puts it, 'You can't hammer a nail over the Internet' (never say never). Guess we all should have paid more attention to Nicholas Negroponte's landmark-in-retrospect Being Digital (ironically, no Kindle version)."
Communications

Microsoft Blocks Messenger In Five Embargoed Countries 194

Spooky McSpookster writes "Microsoft has turned off its Windows Live Messenger service for five countries: Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea. Users in these countries trying to log in get the following error: '810003c1: We were unable to sign you in to the .NET Messenger Service.' Why now, since this flies in the face of the Obama administration's softening stance on Cuba? This isn't the first time the US trade embargo has had questionable outcomes. US-based Syrian political activist George Ajjan created a web site promoting democracy in Syria, only to find GoDaddy blocked anyone inside Syria from seeing it. The article argues, 'Messenger is a medium for communication, and the citizens of these countries should not be punished from such a basic tool because the US has problems with their governments' policies.' What does this say for the wisdom of non-US citizens relying on US companies for their business or communication?"
Censorship

Cory Doctorow Draws the Line On Net Neutrality 381

Nerdposeur points out that Cory Doctorow has a compelling piece in The Guardian today, arguing that network neutrality is not only crucial for the future of the Internet, but is what the ISPs owe to the public. He asks, "Does anybody else feel like waving a flag after reading this?" "If the phone companies had to negotiate for every pole, every sewer, every punch-down, every junction box, every road they get to tear up, they'd go broke. All the money in the world couldn't pay for the access they get for free every day... If they don't like it, let them get into another line of work — give them 60 days to get their wires out of our dirt and then sell the franchise to provide network services to a competitor who will promise to give us a solid digital future in exchange for our generosity."

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