First time accepted submitter windwalker13th writes "Recently the New York Times ran an article highlighting the pull that a State Board in Texas holds over that state and rest of the Nation. Because of the unique way in which Texas picks school textbooks (purchasing large volumes of textbooks at once to be used for the next decade) publishers pander to this board to get their books approved. The board currently holds several members (6 of 28 who are known to reject evolution) who hold creationist views and actively work to ensure that the science textbooks do not use as strong language or must include "critical thinking" about possible alternate explanations for evolution."
Sign up for the Slashdot Daily Newsletter! DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. ×
benrothke writes "Many of us have experimented with what it means to be disabled, by sitting in a wheelchair for a few minutes or putting a blindfold over our eyes. In Digital Outcasts: Moving Technology Forward without Leaving People Behind, author Kel Smith details the innumerable obstacles disabled people have to deal with in their attempts to use computers and the Internet. The book observes that while 1 in 7 people in the world have some sort of disability, (including the fact that 1 in every 10 U.S. children has been diagnosed with ADHD), software and hardware product designers, content providers and the companies who support these teams often approach accessibility as an add-on, not as a core component. Adding accessibility functionality to support disabled people is often seen as a lowest common denominator feature. With the companies unaware of the universal benefit their solution could potentially bring to a wider audience. " Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The Washington Post reports that a rigorous, six-month training program launched by successful tech entrepreneurs for inmates in the decaying San Quentin State Prison is teaching carefully selected inmates the ins and outs of designing and launching technology firms, using local experts as volunteer instructors and the graduates, now trickling out of the penal system, are landing real jobs at real dot-coms. 'We believe that when incarcerated people are released into the world, they need the tools to function in today's high-tech, wired world,' says co-founder Beverly Parenti, who with her husband, Chris Redlitz, has launched thriving companies, including AdAuction, the first online media exchange. During twice-a-week evening lessons, students — many locked up before smartphones or Google— practice tweeting, brainstorm new companies and discuss business books assigned as homework. Banned from the Internet to prevent networking with other criminals, they take notes on keyboard-like word processors or with pencil on paper. The program is still 'bootstrapping,' as its organizers say, with just 12 graduates in its first two years and now a few dozen in classes in San Quentin and Twin Towers. But the five graduates released so far are working in the tech sector. 'This program will go a long way to not only providing these guys with jobs, but it is my hope that they hire people like them who have changed their lives and are now ready to contribute to society, pay taxes, follow the law, support their families,' says former California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation director Matthew Cate who adds he made the right decision to approve the training course. 'All those things contribute to the economy.'"
rjupstate sends an article comparing how an IT infrastructure would be built today compared to one built a decade ago. "Easily the biggest (and most expensive) task was connecting all the facilities together. Most of the residential facilities had just a couple of PCs in the staff office and one PC for clients to use. Larger programs that shared office space also shared a network resources and server space. There was, however, no connectivity between each site -- something my team resolved with a mix of solutions including site-to-site VPN. This made centralizing all other resources possible and it was the foundation for every other project that we took on. While you could argue this is still a core need today, there's also a compelling argument that it isn't. The residential facilities had very modest computing needs -- entering case notes, maintaining log books, documenting medication adherence, and reviewing or updating treatment plans. It's easy to contemplate these tasks being accomplished completely from a smartphone or tablet rather than a desktop PC." How has your approach (or your IT department's approach) changed in the past ten years?
Nathan Myhrvold's six-volume foodie encyclopedia, Modernist Cuisine, writes reader SmartAboutThings, is one of the most expensive cooking encyclopedias, the original six-volume version retailing for $500, with the two-volume addition that followed after that selling for $115. "Now, Nathan and his team have transformed their huge food encyclopedia into an iPhone/iPad app. It's not just a digital book, but rather an expensive $80 interactive app that can do more than just provide recipes. The interactive digital cookbook is the fruit of a development team of 10-15 people that have worked over nine months on the project. The app contains 37 technique videos, 416 recipes and 1,683 photos."
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In a case of major importance, the long simmering battle between the Authors Guild and Google has reached its climax, with the court granting Google's motion for summary judgment, dismissing the case, on fair use grounds. In his 30-page decision (PDF), Judge Denny Chin — who has been a District Court Judge throughout most of the life of the case but is now a Circuit Court Judge — reasoned that, although Google's own motive for its "Library Project" (which scans books from libraries without the copyright owners' permission and makes the material publicly available for search), is commercial profit, the project itself serves significant educational purposes, and actually enhances, rather than detracts from, the value of the works, since it helps promote sales of the works. Judge Chin also felt that it was impossible to use Google's scanned material, either for making full copies, or for reading the books, so that it did not compete with the books themselves."
Nate the greatest writes "Intel didn't mention how much they paid for digital textbook startup Kno when they announced the acquisition last week but inside sources are now saying that the digital textbook startup was picked up for a song. GigaOm reported earlier today that their sources told them that Kno sold effectively for pennies on the dollar: 'Well placed sources who were in the know told us that the company sold for $15 million with some retention bonuses for the employees. Intel bought the company mostly for its hardware-related intellectual property and the employees. Intel also was one of the largest investors in the company — having pumped in $20 million via its Intel Capital arm.' Kno had raised $73 million in venture capital since it was founded 4 years ago, and it picked up another $20 million in debt. This deal was nothing less than a fire sale, and that does not bode well for the digital textbook market or other startups in this niche. Inkling, for example, just raised $20 million dollars this summer in order to compete in a market that where one of their competitors failed."
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "As we come up on Veteran's Day, Barrie Barber reports for the Dayton Daily News that the last Doolittle Raiders symbolically said goodbye to a decades-old tradition and to a history that changed the course of the Pacific war in World War II. Gathering from across the country together one last time, three surviving Raiders sipped from silver goblets engraved with their names and filled with 1896 Hennessy cognac in a once-private ceremony webcast to the world at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. Robert E. Cole, 98, led the final toast to the 80 members of 'the Greatest Generation' who took off in 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers April 18, 1942, from the deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Japan four months after a Japanese surprise naval and air attack on Pearl Harbor. 'Gentleman, I propose a toast,' said Cole, as about 700 spectators watched one final time, 'to those we lost on the mission and those that passed away since. Thank you very much and may they rest in peace.' Acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning said the raid showed the courage and innovation of the World War II airmen flying from a carrier in a bomber that had never seen combat to attack a heavily defended nation and to attempt to land at unseen airfields in China in a country occupied by Japanese troops. More than 70 years after the attack, Edward J. Saylor, 93, remembered ditching at sea once he and his crew dropped their bombs and several close calls with being discovered by the Japanese Army while making his way through China. 'This may be the last time I see them together,' said the 92-year-old raider who has attended Raider reunions since 1962. 'It's a little sad for me because I've known them so long and know the story of what they did in 1942.'"
An anonymous reader writes "'We can enormously extend the record; yet even in its present bulk we can hardly consult it' wrote Vannevar Bush in a 1945 Atlantic Monthly article. Nearly 70 years later, academics are still wrapping research in inaccessible journal articles. Might they be doing it wrong?"
Rambo Tribble writes "No sooner had Amazon revealed their plan to offer independent book shops the Kindle for re-sale, along with a kick-back on e-book purchases, than the fur began to fly. It appears the shops view the plan as Amazon-assisted suicide. Given the apparent terms of the deal, it looks like they may have a point. Amazon may well have done themselves more harm than good with this ploy. One storeowner wrote, 'Hmmm, let's see. We sell Kindles for essentially no profit, the new Kindle customer is in our store where they can browse and discover books, the new Kindle customer can then check the price on Amazon and order the e-book. We make a little on their e-book purchases, but then lose them as a customer completely after two years. Doesn't sound like such a great partnership to me.'"
cartechboy writes "In early October, a Tesla caught on fire in Washington state — and that created a little bit of a stir. Then just before Halloween a second Tesla caught fire. Yesterday, a third Model S caught fire in Tennessee. With the third fire in the books, all happening in similar fashion, today federal investigators are saying they are going to take a look at the situation more closely. As electric car maker's stock shares continue to tumble, some are saying the fires aren't a big deal."
v3rgEz writes "By September 14, 1960, Isaac Asimov had been a professor of biochemistry at Boston University for 11 years, and his acclaimed "I, Robot" collection of short stories was on its seventh reprint. This was also the day someone not-so-subtly accused him of communist sympathies in a letter to J. Edgar Hoover. They ominously concluded that "Asimov may be quite all right. On the other hand . . . . ." The "tip off" wasn't given much credit, but it didn't matter since Asimov's science fiction writing alone was enough to warrant FBI monitoring, particularly as the FBI hunted for the mysterious ROBPROF, a communist informant embedded in American academia. MuckRock has Isaac Asimov's FBI files in full, and a write up of the more interesting bits."
Ender's Game is the quintessential classic military sci-fi book. It ranks near the top of virtually every list of good sci-fi novels. When Hollywood decided to finally go forward with a movie adaptation, the initial reaction from most fans was one of skepticism. (After all, we saw what they did to I, Robot.) But there was reason to hope, as well, because Ender's Game is more action-friendly than many sci-fi stories, and the filmmakers had a big budget with which to make it. The movie was finally released last week; read on for our review. In short: the film tries too hard to straddle the line between assuming viewers are familiar with the details and bringing new viewers up to speed. The cuts to the story were both too much and not enough. It left us with only brief glimpses at too many characters, and introduced themes without fleshing them out enough to be interesting.
nk497 writes with this excerpt from PC Pro "Amazon plans to give independent booksellers 10% of the takings from ebooks bought on Kindles they sell, the online giant has revealed. The new Amazon Source program aims to encourage independent bookstores and small retailers to sell Kindle readers by offering commission for the first two years of the device's life. As an alternative to the 10% kickback from book sales, retailers opting into the Amazon Source program can choose instead to receive a larger discount up front when buying the devices for resale."
our conversation with author David Craddock about his investigation into the early days of game studio Blizzard for his new book, Stay Awhile and Listen. He's joined by Dave Brevik and Max Schaefer, two of the co-founders of Blizzard North. They talk about keeping games accessible, the importance of getting the amount of background story right in Diablo, and whether the creators of these early games have any regrets about them. They also talk about designing The Butcher. (This is video part 2 of 2. The transcript of Part 1 is now available, too, if you care to go back and read it.)