Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

The Courts

Harvard Students Move Fossil Fuel Stock Fight To Court 199

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-take-the-law-into-your-own-hands-you-take-them-to-court dept.
mdsolar writes A group of Harvard students, frustrated by the university's refusal to shed fossil fuel stocks from its investment portfolios, is looking beyond protests and resolutions to a new form of pressure: the courts. The seven law students and undergraduates filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in Suffolk County Superior Court in Massachusetts against the president and fellows of Harvard College, among others, for what they call "mismanagement of charitable funds." The 11-page complaint, with 167 pages of supporting exhibits, asks the court to compel divestment on behalf of the students and "future generations."
Education

Interviews: Ask Adora Svitak About Education and Women In STEM and Politics 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the go-ahead-and-ask dept.
samzenpus writes Adora Svitak is a child prodigy, author and activist. She taught her first class on writing at a local elementary school when she was 7, the same year her book, Flying Fingers was published. In 2010, Adora spoke at a TED Conference. Her speech, "What Adults Can Learn from Kids", has been viewed over 3.7 million times and has been translated into over 40 different languages. She is an advocate for literacy, youth empowerment, and for the inclusion of more women and girls in STEM and politics. 17 this year, she served as a Youth Advisor to the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, DC. and is a freshman at UC Berkeley. Adora has agreed to take some time from her books and answer any questions you may have. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one per post.
Education

"Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer" Pulled From Amazon 541

Posted by timothy
from the made-it-past-the-drawing-board dept.
New submitter clcto writes Back in 2010, Computer Engineer Barbie was released. Now, with the attention brought to the Frozen themed programming game from Disney and Code.org, unwanted attention has been given to the surprisingly real book "Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer". So much so, that Mattel has pulled the book from Amazon. The book shows Barbie attempting to write a computer game. However, instead of writing the code, she enlists two boys to write the code as she just does the design. She then proceeds to infect her computer and her sister's computer with a virus and must enlist the boys to fix that for her as well. In the end she takes all the credit, and proclaims "I guess I can be a computer engineer!" A blog post commenting on the book (as well as giving pictures of the book and its text) has been moved to Gizmodo due to high demand.
Privacy

NYT: Privacy Concerns For ClassDojo, Other Tracking Apps For Schoolchildren 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-somebody-other-than-advertisers-think-of-the-children dept.
theodp writes: The NY Times' Natasha Singer files a report on popular and controversial behavior tracking app ClassDojo, which teachers use to keep a running tally of each student's score, award virtual badges for obedience, and to communicate with parents about their child's progress. "I like it because you get rewarded for your good behavior — like a dog does when it gets a treat," was one third grader's testimonial. Some parents, teachers and privacy law scholars say ClassDojo (investors) — along with other unproven technologies that record sensitive information about students — is being adopted without sufficiently considering the ramifications for data privacy and fairness. "ClassDojo," writes Singer, "does not seek explicit parental consent for teachers to log detailed information about a child's conduct. Although the app's terms of service state that teachers who sign up guarantee that their schools have authorized them to do so, many teachers can download ClassDojo, and other free apps, without vetting by school supervisors. Neither the New York City nor Los Angeles school districts, for example, keep track of teachers independently using apps."

A high school teacher interviewed for the article confessed to having not read ClassDojo's policies on handling student data, saying: "I'm one of those people who, when the terms of service are 18 pages, I just click agree." And, if all this doesn't make you parents just a tad nervous, check out this response to the "Has anyone ran a data analysis on their CD data?" question posed to the Class Dojo Community: "I needed to analyze data in regards to a student being placed on ADHD medicine to see whether or not he made any improvements. I have also used it to determine any behavioral changes depending on if a student was with mom/dad for a custody review. I use dojo consistently, so I LOVE getting to use the data to evaluate and share with parents, or even administrators."
Education

Ask Slashdot: Professionally Packaged Tools For Teaching Kids To Program? 107

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-child-left-in-a-for-loop dept.
Binestar writes: I've been doing IT consulting for years, but I'm not a programmer beyond bash scripting, perl scripts to make administration easier, and batch files to make Windows easier. I recently found an online course for modding Minecraft that my 9-year-old daughter is really enjoying (she built a custom sword that shoots lightning). Does anyone have any recommendations on online courses that would be age appropriate and worth the investment? It's been easy to get her interested in the Minecraft modding course because, as any parent with young children knows, Minecraft is kinda popular...

The course she's taking now is teaching her Eclipse and Gimp, and I'm sure there are other tools installed that they haven't had her open yet. What other vendors have stuff worth introducing her to? I've also started looking at things like the Kano and Learn to Mod, but as a non-programmer, I'm not really sure which are most useful for introduction and which are accomplishing what they claim vs. being a waste of money/time.

Anyone have experience or suggestions to help sort this out?
Education

Coding Bootcamps Presented As "College Alternative" 226

Posted by samzenpus
from the pop-goes-the-bubble dept.
ErichTheRed writes Perhaps this is the sign that the Web 2.0 bubble is finally at its peak. CNN produced a piece on DevBootcamp, a 19-week intensive coding academy designed to turn out Web developers at a rapid pace. I remember Microsoft and Cisco certification bootcamps from the peak of the last tech bubble, and the flood of under-qualified "IT professionals" they produced. Now that developer bootcamps are in the mainsteam media, can the end of the bubble be far away?
The Almighty Buck

Billionaire Donors Lavish Millions On Code.org Crowdfunding Project 84

Posted by timothy
from the hey-fellas-I've-got-this-foundation-repair-project dept.
theodp (442580) writes "Whether it's winning yacht races, assembling the best computer science faculty, or even dominating high school basketball, billionaires like to win. Which may help explain why three tech billionaires — Code.org backers (and FWD.us founders) Mark Zuckerberg, VC John Doerr, and Sean Parker — stepped up to the plate and helped out Code.org's once-anemic Hour of Code Indiegogo crowdfunding project with $500k donations. When matched by Code.org's largest donors (Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman and others), the three donations alone raised $3,000,000, enough to reach the organization's goal of becoming the most funded crowdfunding campaign ever on Indiegogo. On its campaign page, Code.org remarked that "to sustain our organization for the long haul, we need to engage parents and community members," which raises questions about how reliant the K-12 learn-to-code movement might be on the kindness of its wealthy corporate and individual donors. Code.org started shedding some light on its top donors a few months back, but contributor names are blank in the 2013 IRS 990 filing posted by the organization on its website, although GuideStar suggests the biggest contributors in 2013 were Microsoft ($3,149,411) and Code.org founders Hadi and Ali Partovi ($1,873,909 in Facebook stock). Coincidentally, in a Reddit AMA at Code.org's launch, CEO and Founder Hadi Partovi noted that his next-door-neighbor is Microsoft General Counsel and Code.org Board member Brad Smith, whose FWD.us bio notes is responsible for Microsoft's philanthropic work. Just months before Code.org and FWD.us emerged on the lobbying scene, Smith announced Microsoft's National Talent Strategy, which called for "an increase in developing the American STEM pipeline in exchange for these new [H-1B] visas and green cards," a wish that President Obama is expected to grant shortly via executive action."
Networking

Can the US Actually Cultivate Local Competition in Broadband? 135

Posted by timothy
from the but-what-we-really-want-is-more-rules dept.
New submitter riskkeyesq writes with a link to a blog post from Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic.net, about what Jasper sees as the deepest problem in the U.S. broadband market and the Internet in general: "There are a number of threats to the Internet as a system for innovation, commerce and education today. They include net neutrality, the price of Internet access in America, performance, rural availability and privacy. But none of these are the root issue, they're just symptoms. The root cause of all of these symptoms is a disease: a lack of competition for consumer Internet access." Soft landings for former legislators, lobbyists disguised as regulators, hundreds of thousands of miles of fiber sitting unused, the sham that is the internet provider free market is keeping the US in a telecommunications third-world. What, exactly, can American citizens do about it? One upshot, in Jasper's opinion (hardly disinterested, is his role at CEO at an ISP that draws praise from the EFF for its privacy policies) is this: "Today’s FCC should return to the roots of the Telecom Act, and reinforce the unbundling requirements, assuring that they are again technology neutral. This will create an investment ladder to facilities for competitive carriers, opening access to build out and serve areas that are beyond our reach today."
IT

Ask Slashdot: Who's the Doctors Without Borders of Technology? 111

Posted by timothy
from the trespassers-mostly dept.
danspalding writes I'm transitioning into full time tech work after 10 years in education. To that end, after years of tooling around with command line and vim, I'm starting a programming bootcamp in early December. I used to think I wanted to go into ed tech. But the more I think about it, the more I just want to contribute to the most important work I can using my new skills — mostly JavaScript (with a strong interest in graph databases). Ideally an organization that does bold, direct humanitarian work for the people who need it most. So where should I apply to work when I finish bootcamp next March? Who's the MSF of the tech world?
Education

Ask Slashdot: Programming Education Resources For a Year Offline? 223

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-a-local-phrasebook dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I will be traveling to a remote Himalayan village for year and won't have access to the internet. What offline resources would you all recommend to help me continue to develop my coding skills? I think this would be a good time to get better at fundamentals, since I won't be able to learn any new frameworks or APIs. What about other, non-programming skills to practice and learn? Any ideas?" What would you bring?
Education

Education Chief Should Know About PLATO and the History of Online CS Education 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the back-in-the-day dept.
theodp writes Writing in Vanity Fair, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan marvels that his kids can learn to code online at their own pace thanks to "free" lessons from Khan Academy, which Duncan credits for "changing the way my kids learn" (Duncan calls out his kids' grade school for not offering coding). The 50-year-old Duncan, who complained last December that he "didn't have the opportunity to learn computer skills" while growing up attending the Univ. of Chicago Lab Schools and Yale, may be surprised to learn that the University of Illinois was teaching kids how to program online in the '70s with its PLATO system, and it didn't look all that different from what Khan Academy came up with for his kids 40 years later (Roger Ebert remarked in his 2011 TED Talk that seeing Khan Academy gave him a flashback to the PLATO system he reported on in the '60s). So, does it matter if the nation's education chief — who presides over a budget that includes $69 billion in discretionary spending — is clueless about The Hidden History of Ed-Tech? Some think so. "We can't move forward," Hack Education's Audrey Watters writes, "til we reconcile where we've been before." So, if Duncan doesn't want to shell out $200 to read a 40-year-old academic paper on the subject (that's a different problem!) to bring himself up to speed, he presumably can check out the free offerings at Ed.gov. A 1975 paper on Interactive Systems for Education, for instance, notes that 650 students were learning programming on PLATO during the Spring '75 semester, not bad considering that Khan Academy is boasting that it "helped over 2000 girls learn to code" in 2014 (after luring their teachers with funding from a $1,000,000 Google Award). Even young techies might be impressed by the extent of PLATO's circa-1975 online CS offerings, from lessons on data structures and numerical analysis to compilers, including BASIC, PL/I, SNOBOL, APL, and even good-old COBOL.
Google

Google Quadruples A.M. Turing Award To $1M 42

Posted by samzenpus
from the sweeten-the-pot dept.
alphadogg writes The Association for Computing Machinery has announced that its annual A.M. Turing Award, sometimes called the Nobel Prize in Computing, will now come with a $1M award courtesy of Google. Previously, the award came with a $250K prize funded by Google and Intel. The award, which goes to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community," is generally doled out in February or March. This past March, the winner was Microsoft Research principal Leslie Lambert. The ACM says the bigger prize should raise the award's visibility.
Stats

Debunking a Viral Internet Post About Breastfeeding Racism 350

Posted by timothy
from the believe-the-worst dept.
Bennett Haselton writes: A editorial with 24,000 Facebook shares highlights the differences in public reaction to two nearly identical breastfeeding photos, one showing a black woman and one showing a white woman, each breastfeeding an infant. The editorial decries the outrage provoked by the black woman's photo compared to the mild reaction elicited by the white woman's photo, and attributes the difference to racism. I tried an experiment using Amazon's Mechanical Turk to test that theory. Read on to see the kind of results Bennett found.
Businesses

Your Incompetent Boss Is Making You Unhappy 203

Posted by timothy
from the doesn't-bode-well dept.
HnT writes A new working paper shows strong support for what many have always suspected: your boss's technical competence is the single strongest predictor of workers' well-being, way ahead of other factors such as education, earnings, job tenure and public vs. private sector. On top of other studies which have already demonstrated that happy workers are more productive workers (e.g. this 2012 paper.), it does make you wonder how long organizations can afford to continue promoting incompetent bosses in today's very dynamic and competitive business world.
Education

Microsoft Losing the School Markets To iPads and Chromebooks 219

Posted by samzenpus
from the falling-beyond dept.
dkatana writes Microsoft's licensing scheme, the high cost of support and difficult management of devices are the key factors making schools drop Windows for better alternatives as iPads and Chromebooks. Google is making a dent in the education market with Chromebooks. The internet giant has been promoting the use of Chrome OS with specific tools for schools to manage the devices, their apps and users. Its Chromebooks for Education program is helping schools deploy large numbers of devices with an easy management system. While Google is successful with Chromebooks as school laptops the clear winner on tablets is Apple. iPads are a the preferred platform for schools deploying tablets as digital learning devices.
Education

Duke: No Mercy For CS 201 Cheaters Who Don't Turn Selves In By Wednesday 319

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-copy-from-stack-overflow-like-everyone-else dept.
theodp writes: The Duke Chronicle published an e-mail reportedly sent to hundreds of Duke students who took Computer Science 201 (Data Structures & Algorithms) last spring, giving those who copied solutions to class problems until Nov. 12th to turn themselves in for cheating. "Students who have violated course policies but do not step forward by November 12, 2014," warns the e-mail, "will not be offered faculty-student resolution and will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct for disciplinary processes without any recommendation for leniency." The Chronicle adds that CS Prof Owen Astrachan, co-director of undergraduate studies, admitted that there is a fine line between collaboration and cheating in computer science — online and in person, although Astrachan made it clear in comments that "Students who copied code from the Internet are in violation of the community standard and course policies."
Education

Black IT Pros On (Lack Of) Racial Diversity In Tech 458

Posted by timothy
from the convergent-factors dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes While pundits and analysts debate about diversity in Silicon Valley, one thing is very clear: Black Americans make up a very small percentage of tech workers. At Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, that number is a bit less than 2 percent of their respective U.S. workforces; at Apple, it's closer to 7 percent. Many executives and pundits have argued that the educational pipeline remains one of the chief impediments to hiring a more diverse workforce, and that as long as universities aren't recruiting a broader mix of students for STEM degrees, the corporate landscape will suffer accordingly. But black IT entrepreneurs and professionals tell Dice that the problem goes much deeper than simply widening the pipeline; they argue that racial bias, along with lingering impressions of what a 'techie' should look like, loom much larger than any pipeline issue.
United States

Report: Federal Workers, Contractors Behind Half of Government Cyber Breaches 61

Posted by samzenpus
from the who's-to-blame dept.
schwit1 writes Federal employees and contractors are unwittingly undermining a $10 billion-per-year effort to protect sensitive government data from cyberattacks, according to a published report. The AP says that workers in more than a dozen agencies, from the Defense and Education departments to the National Weather Service, are responsible for at least half of the federal cyberincidents reported each year since 2010, according to an analysis of records.
Education

Eben Upton Explains the Raspberry Pi Model A+'s Redesign 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the straight-from-the-horses-mouth dept.
M-Saunders writes It's cheaper, it's smaller, and it's curvier: the new Raspberry Pi Model A+ is quite a change from its predecessor. But with Model Bs selling more in a month than Model As have done in the lifetime of the Pi, what's the point in releasing a new model? Eben Upton, a founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation, explains all. "It gives people a really low-cost way to come and play with Linux and it gives people a low-cost way to get a Raspberry Pi. We still think most people are still going to buy B+s, but it gives people a way to come and join in for the cost of 4 Starbucks coffees."
Education

Codecademy's ReSkillUSA: Gestation Period For New Developers Is 3 Months 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the four-if-you-want-them-to-play-well-with-others dept.
theodp writes: TechCrunch reports that Codecademy has teamed up with online and offline coding schools to create ReskillUSA. "3 months," explains ReskillUSA's website, is "how long it takes a dedicated beginner to learn the skills to qualify for computing and web development jobs." TechCrunch's Anthony Ha explains,"By teaming up with other organizations, Codecademy is also hoping to convince employers that completing one of those programs is a meaningful qualification for a job, and that you don't necessarily need a bachelor's degree in computer science." In his Medium post, Codecademy CEO Zach Sims calls on "students learning for the jobs of the future or employers interested in hiring a diverse and skilled workforce – to join us. The future of our economy depends on it."

Nothing happens.

Working...