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Submission + - Google Calendar to drop SMS notifications

united_notions writes: According to an announcement emailed to all users of Google Calendar, and syndicated on their 'SMS Notifications' page, Google has decided to discontinue the option to receive reminders about your events by SMS, effective after June 27th. A sad day for all of us still stubbornly refusing to use mobile data.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How to explain Google-run vs. company-run Google accounts? 1

united_notions writes: I work at a large British university, and we use Google Apps through the university domain. Our Google accounts are already set up for us, and we just have to log in using our staff email address, but in a specific format: [username]@my.[ouruniversity] (not [username]@[ouruniversity] Trouble is, many employees are separately registering their own Google account with the [username]@[ouruniversity] address. What they end up with is an account that's run through Google, not our university; it just happens to be an account associated with a university email address. These colleagues don't understand why they can't access something when I've shared it with 'everyone at our university', or why university email addresses don't automatically come up when they start typing them (e.g. when sharing files in Google Drive). But I'm *really* struggling to explain that difference to them, and why they should log in with the '[username]@my.[ouruniversity]' address. I think I'm starting to bore people, or worse. What strategies have Slashdotters found useful in explaining this difference, without being patronising or annoying? Diagrams? ASCII art? Interpretive dance? Help me!

Submission + - UK university IT staff excluded from transnational education (

united_notions writes: As reported in University World News: "Almost half of IT staff in British higher education are not involved in the delivery of transnational education programmes overseas by their own institutions, despite technology being integral to universities delivering teaching and qualifications to students in other countries, says a new report.

The report describes the results of research designed to uncover the extent to which IT staff in universities were involved in transnational education, or TNE. It found that 45% were “in the dark”."

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: how to verify your identity without being there in person? 1

united_notions writes: I work for a large university, and our recruitment policy allows us to interview prospective staff and grad students over Skype, but the chosen applicant still has to show up in person before they can be formally appointed. This is so that they can physically hold up a genuine passport and prove their identity (as a failsafe against bogus interviews). What other ways could applicants do this, without flying potentially around the world just to file paperwork?

Submission + - Does mass media, like, affect how we speak?

united_notions writes: It might seem obvious that the kids are all like, yeah whatever, because they hear it on the tellybox. But in the field of sociolinguistics (the study of language in society) that has long been a contentious and hotly debated topic. In the latest issue of the Journal of Sociolinguistics is an article summing up 20 years of research on the matter and proposing a new research framework — followed by a series of response articles thinking it through from different angles. The skinny: there is some influence of mass media on spoken language, but it's nowhere near as simple as it seems. The main article is open access (Creative Commons Attribution License) but the response articles are paywalled.

Submission + - The Hub of All Things (H.A.T.) lets you collect and sell your own consumer data

united_notions writes: A £1.2 million project, taking place across 6 UK universities (Warwick, Exeter, Nottingham, Cambridge, West England and Edinburgh), is looking to reinvent the consumer data business, enabling consumers to collect and sell their own data. From the project website: "The H.A.T digital vault (which could be server-at-home, cloud-based or a hybrid of the two) will store all data collected in the home and, crucially, all data generated by the individual is owned by the individual. This means that the data’s worth – in every sense from a ‘vertical’ dataset (such as consumption of medicine) to the relational dataset (such as the linkages between several objects e.g. food, fitness and medicine) – is owned by and can only be used with explicit permission from the individual for the time period stipulated by the individual. Such data could be exchanged with firms for personalized products or services that would enhance lives, and could inform and empower individuals for better decisions and behaviours." And if you want to get involved, they're hiring.

Submission + - Secrets of Beatboxing Revealed by MRI

united_notions writes: Beatboxing, pioneered in the 1980s and made famous by Michael Winslow in Police Academy (1984), and recently demonstrated by Tom Thum at TEDxSydney), has long been something of an enigma. Phonetic transcriptions have been attempted, including Standard Beatbox Notation and The Beatbox Alphabet (the latter based more closely on the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)). The Beatbox Bible also uses phonetic terminology to teach the technique. Now, an international team from UCSD and Philips Research have published a paper (article paywalled; extensive free related resources at UCS here) in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, showing the results of real-time magnetic resonance imaging conducted on a beatboxing performer. The authors make interesting comparisons to sounds in many minority languages around the world (such as the 'click' consonants in many African languages); they also show how beatboxing sounds can be represented using the IPA.
United Kingdom

Submission + - Rightster blocks Youtube video of UK Prime Minister's Questions (

united_notions writes: Prime Minister's Questions is a popular weekly televised puppet show in the UK. Expatriate political nerds cannot access it via the BBC's iPlayer unless they have access to a UK-based VPN (top tip: most UK universities and many UK employers run VPNs, all you need is a working login!). For VPN-less expats, the solution has been the UK Parliament's imaginatively named 'UKParliament' Youtube channel. But their upload of last week's PMQs has been blocked by online media distribution firm Rightster. Rightster have previously hosted clips of PMQs, but does that enable them to block the whole thing? Just W exactly TF is going on here?

Submission + - Gmail Quietly Adds 'Conversation View Off' Option ( 1

united_notions writes: Loved by many, deeply loathed by some, Gmail's innovative 'conversation view' (grouping together email replies) was for six years stubbornly maintained as the only option. Well, Gmail have finally introduced a 'Conversation view off' option in the General tab of the Settings page. Luddites rejoice!

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