Software

Why PowerPoint Should Be Banned 263

Posted by Soulskill
from the hang-on-my-clicker-isn't-working dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at the Washington Post argues that Microsoft PowerPoint is being relied upon by too many to do too much, and we should start working to get rid of it. "Its slides are oversimplified, and bullet points omit the complexities of nearly any issue. The slides are designed to skip the learning process, which — when it works — involves dialogue, eye-to-eye contact and discussions. Of course PowerPoint has merits — it can help businesses with their sales pitches or let teachers introduce technology into the classroom. But instead of being used as a means for a dynamic engagement, it has become a poor substitute for longer, well-thought-out briefings and technical reports. It has become a crutch."
AI

Microsoft Bringing Cortana To iOS, Android 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the new-ways-for-your-phone-to-yell-at-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: While many big tech companies have their own personal assistant software these days, few of them are available on a broad variety of devices. Microsoft has now announced that it's becoming one of those few: Cortana will be available for iOS and Android devices later this year. It's part of an initiative by the company to ensure Windows 10 plays well with all sorts of devices, even phones made by the other major manufacturers. Microsoft said, "Regardless of the operating systems you choose across your devices – everything important to you should roam across the products you already own – including your phone." This led them to develop a "Phone Companion app," built into Windows 10, that's designed to help sync a user's PC with his phone.
Spam

Attackers Use Email Spam To Infect Point-of-Sale Terminals 81

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
jfruh writes: Point-of-sale software has meant that in many cases where once you'd have seen a cash register, you now see a general-purpose PC running point-of-sale (PoS) software. Unfortunately, those PCs have all the usual vulnerabilities, and when you run software on it that processes credit card payments, they become a tempting target for hackers. One of the latest attacks on PoS software comes in the form of malicious Word macros downloaded from spam emails.
GUI

Microsoft Tries Another Icon Theme For Windows 10 229

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-solid-color-rectangles dept.
jones_supa writes: Back in February, users decried the new icon look in Windows 10. In response to that feedback, Microsoft has implemented a new icon pack in build 10125, which was leaked early but expected to arrive soon for Technical Preview testers. Screenshots show what the final version of the OS could look like when it goes live this summer. The new icons go all-in on a flat approach, following the same design cues as the rest of the operating system, but the "pixel art" style has been abandoned. Once again, Softpedia asked for user experiences, and this time the comments have been mostly positive.
Blackberry

Microsoft Reportedly May Acquire BlackBerry 126

Posted by samzenpus
from the circle-of-business dept.
New submitter techtsp writes: Microsoft is just one one of many companies reportedly looking to get a bigger piece of the enterprise mobile market by buying BlackBerry. Reports claim that Chinese firms including Huawei, Lenovo and Xiaomi are also interested in picking up BlackBerry following the company's recent return to profitability. This report comes on the heels of BlackBerry announcing it is cutting jobs across its global business units in an attempt to consolidate its software, hardware and applications business.
Businesses

Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK 241

Posted by Soulskill
from the how-kind-of-them dept.
Mark Wilson sends word that Amazon will begin paying corporate taxes on profits made in the UK. The company had previously been recording most of its UK sales as being in Luxembourg, which let them avoid the higher taxes in the UK. But at the end of last year, UK regulators decided they were losing too much tax revenue because of this practice, so they began implementing legislation that would impose a 25% tax on corporations routing their profits elsewhere. Amazon is the first large corporation to make the change, and it's expected to put pressure on Google, Microsoft, Apple, and others to do the same.
Windows

25 Years Today - Windows 3.0 386

Posted by timothy
from the hindsight-is-warm-and-fuzzy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Windows 3.0 was launched on 22 May 1990 — I know, 'coz I was there as a SDE on the team. I still have, um, several of the shrink-wrapped boxes of the product — with either 3.5 inch and 5.25 floppies rattling around inside them — complete with their distinctive 'I witnessed the event' sticker!

It was a big deal for me, and I still consider Win 3 as *the* most significant Windows' release, and I wonder what other Slashdotters think, looking back on Win 3?
Education

Learn About The Technology Education And Literacy in Schools Program (Video #2) 11

Posted by Roblimo
from the how-can-you-be-in-four-places-at-once-when-you're-not-anywhere-at-all? dept.
Quoting our intro from yesterday's 'Part One' video: 'The Technology Education And Literacy in Schools program (TEALS to its friends), started with one volunteer, a Berkeley CS grad named Kevin Wang who taught high school for a while, then went to Microsoft for a much higher salary than he got from teaching. But before long, he was getting up early and teaching a first period computer science class at a Seattle-area high school that was (sort of) on his way to work.'

TEALS is now in 130 high schools and has 475 volunteers in multiple states but still has a long way to go (and needs to recruit many more volunteers) because, Kevin says, fewer than 1% of American high school students are exposed to computer science, even though "Computer science is now fundamental in these kids' lives." He doesn't expect everyone who takes a TEALS class to become a computer person any more than chemistry teachers expect all their students to become chemists. You might say that learning a little about how computers and networks work is like knowing how to change a car tire and cook a simple meal: skills that make life easier even for people who don't want to become mechanics or cooks.
Education

AP Computer Science Education Scalability: Advantage, Rupert Murdoch? 47

Posted by Soulskill
from the teaching-the-next-generation-of-voicemail-hackers dept.
theodp writes: Code.org's AP Computer Science offering won't be going mainstream until the 2016-2017 school year. In the meantime, NewsWorks' Avi Wolfman-Arent reports that Rupert Murdoch's Amplify MOOC just wrapped up its second year of offering AP Computer Science A. And unlike Microsoft TEALS, Google CS First, and Code.org — programs constrained by the number of volunteers, teacher and classroom availability, professional development requirements, and money — Murdoch's AP CS MOOC holds the promise of open-access, unlimited-enrollment, learn-anywhere-and-anytime classes, a la Coursera, Udacity and EdX. So, did Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and their leaders place a $30 million bet on the wrong horse when it comes to AP Computer Science scalability? And, even if they've got a more scalable model, will Murdoch's Amplify and schools be willing to deal with higher MOOC failure rates, and allow large numbers of students to try — and possibly drop or fail — AP CS without economic or academic consequences?
Education

Learn About The Technology Education And Literacy in Schools Program (Video) 17

Posted by Roblimo
from the computer-science-for-the-high-school-masses dept.
The Technology Education And Literacy in Schools program (TEALS to its friends) started with one volunteer, a Berkeley CS grad named Kevin Wang who taught high school for a while, then went to Microsoft for a much higher salary than he got from teaching. But before long, he was getting up early and teaching a first period computer science class at a Seattle-area high school that was (sort of) on his way to work. Then some other local high schools came to him and wanted similar programs. Kevin's a smart guy, but not smart enough to be in four places at once, so he recruited coworkers to join him as volunteer computer science educators. Today (as this is being written) TEALS is in 130 high schools and has 475 volunteers in multiple states. Kevin works full time on the program, sponsored by Microsoft, but 78% of the volunteers now come from other companies.

TEALS has stuck with Kevin's original 1st period (usually somewhere between 7:30 and 9:30) schedule not just because it's convenient for many of the volunteers, but because (contrary to teen-nerd stereotypes) 60% of their students are in after-school sports and 20% are in band. The program is growing steadily and they're looking for more volunteers. We'll have another video with Kevin tomorrow, and that's when the transcript of both videos will appear. Meanwhile, you can read the TEALS FAQ and see how you might fit in with this group or one of many other similar ones either as a volunteer, as a student or as a teacher or school administrator interested in giving your students at least a basic grounding in Computer Science. (Coincidentally, today's 'Ask Slashdot' is about tech skills for HS students -- an unintentional but excellent tie-in.)
Education

Microsoft To Teachers: Using Pens and Paper Not Fair To Students 387

Posted by samzenpus
from the are-books-still-allowed? dept.
Freshly Exhumed writes: Pens and paper have no place in the modern classroom, according to Lia De Cicco Remu, director of Partners in Learning at Microsoft Canada. "When was the last time you used a piece of chalk to express yourself?" De Cicco Remu, a former teacher, asked the Georgia Straight by phone from Toronto. "Kids don't express themselves with chalk or in cursive. Kids text." Given the Microsoft Study Finds Technology Hurting Attention Spans story posted to Slashdot in the last few days it would seem that Redmond's Marketing and R&D people are at cross-purposes.
Microsoft

Microsoft Study Finds Technology Hurting Attention Spans 109

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-does-what-now? dept.
jones_supa writes: Conducting both surveys and EEG scans, Microsoft has published a study suggesting that the average attention span has fallen precipitously since the start of the century. While people could focus on a task for 12 seconds back in 2000, that figure dropped to 8 seconds in 2013 (about one second less than a goldfish). Reportedly, a lot of that reduction stems from a combination of smartphones and an avalanche of content. The study found also a sunny side: while presence of technology is hurting attention spans overall, it also appears to improve person's abilities to both multitask and concentrate in short bursts.
Businesses

Gates, Zuckerberg Promising Same Jobs To US Kids and Foreign H-1B Workers? 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-get-a-job-and-you-get-a-job-and-you-get-a-job dept.
theodp writes: Over at the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg-bankrolled Code.org, they're using the number of open computing jobs in each state to convince parents of the need to expand K-12 CS offerings so their kids can fill those jobs. Sounds good, right? But at the same time, the Gates and Zuckerberg-bankrolled FWD.org PAC has taken to Twitter, using the number of open "STEM" jobs in each state to convince politicians of the need to expand the number of H-1B visas so foreign workers can fill those jobs. While the goal of Microsoft's 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy is to kill two birds [K-12 CS education and H-1B visas] with one crisis, is it fair for organizations backed by many of the same wealthy individuals to essentially promise the same jobs to U.S. kids and foreign H-1B workers?
Windows

How Windows 10 Performs On a 12-inch MacBook 241

Posted by Soulskill
from the burning-questions dept.
An anonymous reader writes: As Microsoft prepares for the launch of Windows 10, review sites have been performing all sorts of benchmarks on the tech preview to evaluate how well the operating system will run. But now a computer science student named Alex King has made the most logical performance evaluation of all: testing Windows 10's performance on a 2015 MacBook. He says, "Here's the real kicker: it's fast. It's smooth. It renders at 60FPS unless you have a lot going on. It's unequivocally better than performance on OS X, further leading me to believe that Apple really needs to overhaul how animations are done. Even when I turn Transparency off in OS X, Mission Control isn't completely smooth. Here, even after some Aero Glass transparency has been added in, everything is smooth. It's remarkable, and it makes me believe in the 12-inch MacBook more than ever before. So maybe it's ironic that in some regards, the new MacBook runs Windows 10 (a prerelease version, at that) better than it runs OS X."
Microsoft

In-Database R Coming To SQL Server 2016 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the r,-me-hearties dept.
theodp writes: Wondering what kind of things Microsoft might do with its purchase of Revolution Analytics? Over at the Revolutions blog, David Smith announces that in-database R is coming to SQL Server 2016. "With this update," Smith writes, "data scientists will no longer need to extract data from SQL server via ODBC to analyze it with R. Instead, you will be able to take your R code to the data, where it will be run inside a sandbox process within SQL Server itself. This eliminates the time and storage required to move the data, and gives you all the power of R and CRAN packages to apply to your database." It'll no doubt intrigue Data Scientist types, but the devil's in the final details, which Microsoft was still cagey about when it talked-the-not-exactly-glitch-free-talk (starts @57:00) earlier this month at Ignite. So, brush up your R, kids, and you can see how Microsoft walks the in-database-walk when SQL Server 2016 public preview rolls out this summer.
Windows

Microsoft Confirms It Won't Offer Free Windows 10 Upgrades To Pirates 214

Posted by Soulskill
from the on-second-thought-they-like-money dept.
An anonymous reader writes: If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. All that talk about pirates getting free Windows 10 upgrades? Not happening. For genuine users, the free upgrade to Windows 10 means receiving "ongoing Windows innovation and security updates for free, for the supported lifetime of that device." Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president of operating systems, has clarified the company's plans were not changing for non-genuine users: "Microsoft and our OEM partners know that many consumers are unwitting victims of piracy, and with Windows 10, we would like all of our customers to move forward with us together. While our free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to Non-Genuine Windows devices, and as we've always done, we will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a Non-Genuine state."
Education

College Board Puts Code.org In Charge of AP CS Program 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the must-pass-recruitment-test dept.
theodp writes: "The College Board," reports GeekWire, "is endorsing Code.org as a coursework and teacher training provider for its upcoming AP Computer Science Principles course and will help Code.org fund the teacher training work required to establish new computer science classes." So what's the catch? "Schools that commit to using the [new] PSAT [8/9 assessment] to identify middle school students who have potential for success in computer science will be eligible to receive curriculum, training, and funding for programming classes." The organization is bankrolled by some of tech's wealthiest leaders and their corporations. Code.org board member Brad Smith, Microsoft's General Counsel, proposed the idea of "producing a crisis" to advance Microsoft's "two-pronged" National Talent Strategy to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas. Just months thereafter, nonprofit organizations Code.org and Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us, which is lobbying for H-1B reform, were born.
AI

Baidu's Supercomputer Beats Google At Image Recognition 115

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-the-better-to-see-you-with dept.
catchblue22 writes: Using the ImageNet object classification benchmark, Baidu’s Minwa supercomputer scanned more than 1 million images and taught itself to sort them into about 1,000 categories and achieved an image identification error rate of just 4.58 percent, beating humans, Microsoft and Google. Google's system scored a 95.2% and Microsoft's, a 95.06%, Baidu said. “Our company is now leading the race in computer intelligence,” said Ren Wu, a Baidu scientist working on the project. “I think this is the fastest supercomputer dedicated to deep learning,” he said. “We have great power in our hands—much greater than our competitors.”
Security

Photo Printing Website Artisan State Allows Access To All User-Uploaded Photos 94

Posted by Soulskill
from the locking-the-door-without-closing-it dept.
fulldecent writes: Popular photo printing website Artisan State, which specializes in bound photo books mostly for weddings or other events, unintentionally makes all its uploaded user photos available publicly for download. This case study shows how their photos are able to be downloaded and discusses the things vendors should think about when considering security of seemingly private user content. The case study also discusses how this flaw was reported to the vendor, but unfortunately never fixed. This follows other articles on Slashdot discussing security disclosure. How do you report vulnerabilities to vendors? Do you support publishing them if they are not fixed in a reasonable time?
Security

Microsoft Is Confident In Security of Edge Browser 133

Posted by timothy
from the way-out-there-man dept.
jones_supa writes: It's no secret that Internet Explorer has always been criticized for its poor security, so with the Edge web browser (previously known as Spartan), Microsoft is trying to tackle this problem more effectively and make sure that users consider it at least as good as Chrome and Firefox. In a blog post, Microsoft details the security enhancements available in Edge, pointing out that most of the changes it made to the new browser make it much more secure than Internet Explorer. There is more protection against trickery, app containers are used as the sandbox mechanism, and protection against memory corruption is better. Old, insecure plugin interfaces are not supported at all: VML, VBScript, Toolbars, BHOs, and ActiveX are all nuked from the orbit.