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Education

CEO Says One Laptop Per Child Project Has Achieved Its Goals 54

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the extended-mission-doing-ok dept.
waderoush (1271548) writes "A blog post at OLPC News last week went viral with the claim that the nine-year-old One Laptop Per Child project is dead. Media outlets quickly controverted the assertion, but the response from the OLPC Association itself was brief, saying that its mission is 'far from over' and citing ongoing projects to distribute laptops in Central America. In a more lengthy Q&A this week, OLPC chairman and CEO Rodrigo Arboleda says the organization has achieved many of its goals, including demonstrating the value of the 'Constructionist' 1:1 learning philosophy originally espoused by Negroponte. With 2.5 million laptops distributed so far, the OLPC vision is 'on track to being fully realized,' Arboleda says. He sees 'commercial greed' and a 'status-quo mentality' within ministries of education and teachers' unions as the main hurdles holding back faster progress."
Stats

St. Patrick's Day, March Madness, and Steve Jobs' Liver 129

Posted by timothy
from the human-organs-enclosed dept.
Many Americans are probably rubbing their temples and wandering around with a bit of a post-St. Patrick's day hangover. Reader theodp writes with a sobering statistical consequence of traditional heavy-drinking holidays: "Keep in mind that this time of year has traditionally been very good to those awaiting organ transplants, including the late Steve Jobs, as Walter Isaacson explained in Jobs: 'By late February 2009 Jobs had secured a place on the Tennessee list (as well as the one in California), and the nervous waiting began. He was declining rapidly by the first week in March, and the waiting time was projected to be twenty-one days. 'It was dreadful,' Powell recalled. 'It didn't look like we would make it in time.' Every day became more excruciating. He moved up to third on the list by mid-March, then second, and finally first. But then days went by. The awful reality was that upcoming events like St. Patrick's Day and March Madness (Memphis was in the 2009 tournament and was a regional site) offered a greater likelihood of getting a donor because the drinking causes a spike in car accidents. Indeed, on the weekend of March 21, 2009, a young man in his mid-twenties was killed in a car crash, and his organs were made available.'"
Programming

Ask Slashdot: Can an Old Programmer Learn New Tricks? 306

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the new-and-exciting-skills dept.
An anonymous reader writes "I have been programming in some fashion, for the last 18 years. I got my first job programming 15 years ago and have advanced my career programming, leading programmers and bringing my technical skill sets into operations and other areas of the business where problems can be solved with logical solutions. I learned to program on the Internet in the 90s.. scouring information where ever I could and reading the code others wrote. I learned to program in a very simple fashion, write a script and work your way to the desired outcome in a straight forward logical way. If I needed to save or reuse code, I created include files with functions. I could program my way through any problem, with limited bugs, but I never learned to use a framework or write modular, DRY code. Flash forward to today, there are hundreds of frameworks and thousands of online tutorials, but I just can't seem to take the tutorials and grasp the concepts and utilize them in a practical manner. Am I just too old and too set in my ways to learn something new? Does anyone have any recommendations for tutorials or books that could help a 'hacker' like me? Also, I originally learned to program in Perl, but moved onto C and eventually PHP and Python."
Sci-Fi

Transhumanist Children's Book Argues, "Death Is Wrong" 334

Posted by samzenpus
from the do-you-want-to-live-forever? dept.
destinyland writes "Hoping to inspire life-extending medical research, science fiction author Gennady Stolyarov has launched a campaign to give away 1,000 free copies of his transhumanist picture book for children, Death is Wrong. 'My greatest fear about the future is not of technology running out of control or posing existential risks to humankind,' he explains. 'Rather, my greatest fear is that, in the year 2045, I will be...wondering, "What happened to that Singularity we were promised by now...?"' Along with recent scientific discoveries, the book tells its young readers about long-lived plants and animals '"that point the way toward lengthening lifespans in humans,' in an attempt to avoid a future where children 'would pay no more attention to technological progress and life-extension possibilities than their predecessors did.'"
Books

Why Are There More Old Songs On iTunes Than Old eBooks? 77

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-blame-the-schools dept.
New submitter Paul J Heald writes "The vast majority of books and songs from the 20th Century are out-of-print. New data show music publishers doing an admirable job of digitizing older content, but book publishers fail miserably at putting old works in eBook form. I've done some research in an attempt to explain why: 'Music publishers can proceed with the digitization of their back catalog without competing to re-sign authors or hiring lawyers to renegotiate and write new contracts. Research has revealed no cases holding that music publishers must renegotiate in order to digitize their vinyl back catalogs. The situation for book publishers is substantially the opposite. In the landmark case of Random House v. Rosetta Books, the Second Circuit held that Random House had to renegotiate deals with its authors in order to publish their hard copy books in eBook format. ... Another advantage that the music industry may have is the lower cost of digitization. A vinyl album or audio master tape can be converted directly to a consumable digital form and be made available almost immediately. A book, on the other hand, can be scanned quite easily, but in order to be marketed as a professional-looking eBook (as opposed to a low quality, camera-like image of the original book), the scanned text needs to be manipulated with word processing software to reset the fonts and improve the appearance of the text.'"
Books

XKCD Author's Unpublished Book Has Already Become a Best-Seller 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-before-it-was-big dept.
destinyland writes "Wednesday the geeky cartoonist behind XKCD announced that he'd publish a new book answering hypothetical science questions in September. And within 24 hours, his as-yet-unpublished work had become Amazon's #2 best-selling book. 'Ironically, this book is titled What If?,' jokes one blogger, noting it resembles an XKCD comic where 'In our yet-to-happen future, this book decides to travel backwards through time, stopping off in March of 2014 to inform Amazon's best-seller list that yes, in our coming timeline this book will be widely read...' Randall Munroe's new book will be collecting his favorite 'What If...' questions, but will also contain his never-before published answers to some questions that he'd found 'particularly neat.'"
Science

Ask Slashdot: Automatically Logging Non-Computerized Equipment Use? 130

Posted by timothy
from the bar-codes-and-magnets dept.
First time accepted submitter Defenestrar writes "I've recently taken a job at a large state university where I manage the laboratories for a couple of departments. We have a good system to pro-rate costs for shared use of big ticket items, but don't have anything in place for small to medium expense pieces which don't require software control (i.e. AD user authentication logs). It is much more efficient to designate a common room for things like water purifiers and centrifuges, but log books have a history of poor compliance. Also, abuse or neglect of communal property has been an issue in the past (similar to the tragedy of the commons).

Do any of you know of good automatic systems to record user/group equipment usage which would allow for easy data processing down the line (i.e. I don't want to go through webcam archives). Systems which promote accountability and care are a bonus, but for safety reasons we don't want the room's door locked (i.e. no pin/badged access). Most of these systems also require continuous power — so electrical interlocks are not a good option either.

I call on you, my fellow Slashdotters, to do your best and get quickly sidetracked while still including the occasional gem in the comments."
Books

Book Review: Threat Modeling: Designing For Security 32

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
benrothke writes "When it comes to measuring and communicating threats, perhaps the most ineffective example in recent memory was the Homeland Security Advisory System; which was a color-coded terrorism threat advisory scale. The system was rushed into use and its output of colors was not clear or intuitive. What exactly was the difference between levels such as high, guarded and elevated? From a threat perspective, which color was more severe — yellow or orange? Former DHS chairman Janet Napolitano even admitted that the color-coded system presented 'little practical information' to the public. While the DHS has never really provided meaningful threat levels, in Threat Modeling: Designing for Security, author Adam Shostack has done a remarkable job in detailing an approach that is both achievable and functional. More importantly, he details a system where organizations can obtain meaningful and actionable information, rather than vague color charts." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Books

Book Review: Sudo Mastery: User Access Control For Real People 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
Saint Aardvark writes "If you're a Unix or Linux sysadmin, you know sudo: it's that command that lets you run single commands as root from your own account, rather than logging in as root. And if you're like me, here's what you know about configuring sudo:

1.) Run sudoedit and uncomment the line that says "%wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL".
2.) Make sure you're in the wheel group.
3.) Profit!

If you're a sysadmin, you need to stop people from shooting themselves in the foot. There should be some way of restricting use, right? Just gotta check out the man page.... And that's where I stopped, every time. I've yet to truly understand Extended Backus-Naur Form, and my eyes would glaze over. And so I'd go back to putting some small number of people in the 'wheel' group, and letting them run sudo, and cleaning up the occasional mess afterward. Fortunately, Michael W. Lucas has written Sudo Mastery: User Access Control for Real People."
Keep reading for the rest of Saint Aardvark's review.
Books

Ghostwriter Reveals the Secret Life of WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange 359

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-used-to-disappointment dept.
An anonymous reader writes "From the Telegraph, 'He is vain, secretive, paranoid and jealous, prone to leering at young women and making frequent sexist jokes – and that's not the view of one of his many enemies, but of a friend ... A damning picture of Julian Assange ... has emerged in a detailed account by his ghostwriter. Assange behaves ... like an egotistical tyrant interested more in his own self-publicity than in changing the world. Worse still, he turns on his friends with increasing regularity ... Assange describes the Ecuadorean ambassador offering him diplomatic asylum as 'mad', 'fat' and 'ludicrous'. Even Assange's girlfriend, WikiLeaks researcher Sarah Harrison, grew increasingly frustrated at his behaviour. 'He openly chats girls up and has his hands on their a**e and goes nuts if I even talk to another guy,' she says. O'Hagan, who had hoped to find an anti-authoritarian rebel figure worthy of admiration, says he comes to regard Assange as someone who sacrificed the moral high-ground by attempting to evade trial over the rape charges.' — The Scotsman adds, 'Canongate director Jamie Byng yesterday hailed O'Hagan's account of the "impossibility of trying to ghost Assange's memoirs". He tweeted: "Andy O'Hagan's compelling, ring side account of Being (& being around) Julian Assange is smart, accurate and fair."'"
Encryption

Another Possible Voynich Breakthrough 160

Posted by samzenpus
from the be-sure-to-drink-your-Ovaltine dept.
bmearns writes "Over the past few weeks we've been hearing a lot about a possible breakthrough in decoding the infamous Voynich manuscript, made by a team of botanists who suggested that the plants depicted in the manuscript may have been from the New World and the mysterious writing could be a form of an Aztec language. But the latest development comes from linguist Stephen Bax, of Bedfordshire University, who believes he has identified some proper names (including of the constellation 'Taurus') in the manuscript and is using these as a crib to begin deciphering the rest of the text, which he believes comes from the near east or Asia."
Biotech

1870s Horse Flu Epidemic Brought US Economy To Its Knees 118

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the pegasus-flu dept.
Nemo the Magnificent writes with this excerpt from the University of Arizona: "A new study (paywalled) published in the journal Nature provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the evolutionary relationships of influenza virus across different host species over time... In the 1870s, an immense horse flu outbreak swept across North America. City by city and town by town, horses got sick and perhaps five percent of them died. Half of Boston burned down during the outbreak, because there were no horses to pull the pump wagons. In the West, the U.S. Cavalry was fighting the Apaches on foot because all the horses were sick... The horse flu outbreak pulled the rug out from under the economy.""
Books

Book Review: Survival of the Nicest 176

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
jsuda writes "In a world of intractable wars and conflicts, spiteful and persistent political gridlock dominating (at least) American politics, rampant bare-knuckle capitalist competition and exploitation, and haters everywhere, Stephen Klein tries to convince us why it pays to get along. In Survival of the Nicest he says that we can be, and ought to be, 'nice' for our personal and social benefits." Read below for jsuda's review.

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