Shared posts

27 May 22:07

Screenshots of Despair: computers making humans sad

by Cory Doctorow

Screenshots of Despair: a Tumblr that features shots of computers interacting with humans in ways that seem calculated to make them sad and angry. As Bruce Sterling notes, "Somebody could teach a pretty good interaction-design course with this handy resource. Maybe somebody already is."

Screenshots of Despair (via Beyond the Beyond)


26 May 01:55

How To Use Your Cell Phone as a Survival Tool [Infographic]

by Eric Lyday

And if all else fails, you can always throw it at something.

Let me first say that I want to be Bear Grylls. The dude is amazingly crafty and knowledgeable about survival. So, in the spirit of Bear, here’s an infographic to keep you alive in the worst conditions.

Under normal circumstances, a working cell phone would be much more useful than a broken cell phone. But, if you’re down to nothing but the bare essentials, breaking your phone might just save your life.

Firstly, you can make your battery combust to create a fire simply by attaching a wire (found from inside your phone) to the positive and negative nodes. Then, I would assume that you would need to quickly catch some grass or leaves to light your campfire because the wire will disintegrate quickly. Other uses include widdling your circuit board or metal back case to make a good cutting or hunting tool. My personal favorite is the LCD screen that can alert a flying plane to your whereabouts. Just throw the peace sign toward your savior plane and hopefully they will pay attention to flashing lights. BAM. Saved.

Know about any other survival tricks? Leave a comment!


© Eric Lyday for Daily Infographic, 2013. | Permalink | 3 comments | Add to
Post tags: cell phone, Circuit board, compass, crash, cutting, fire starter, fish hook, isolation, LCD screen, signal mirror, spear, survival, tools

26 May 01:35

3D printed bio-absorbable splint saves baby with otherwise fatal impaired breathing

by Cory Doctorow

Elijah sez, "Recent news has been all about the commercial use of 3D printing - from food to weaponry. But recently, doctors at the University of Michigan used quick thinking and 3D printing technology to save the life of a 2-month-old child with a rare disease."

The scaffold was made of a bioresorbable material, polycaprolactone, so it would dissolve and be absorbed by the body after about three years. At this point, his airways should be fully developed and no longer need the stent.

The doctors used high-resolution X-ray scans of one of Kaiba's healthy windpipes to design a computer model for the life-saving brace.

Laser-equipped 3-D printers crafted the device in a few hours, and the university obtained emergency clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to implant it on February 9, 2012 at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor.

"It was amazing. As soon as the splint was put in, the lungs started going up and down for the first time and we knew he was going to be OK," said Green.

3-D Printing Saves Baby's Life [VIDEO] (Thanks, Elijah Wolfson!)


24 May 11:56

Sharp: Linux Kernel Internships (OPW) Update

by corbet
Sarah Sharp reports on the response to the availability of a set of Outreach Program for Women internships working on the Linux kernel. "As coordinator for the Linux kernel OPW project, I was really worried about whether applicants would be able to get patches into the kernel. Everyone knows that kernel maintainers are the pickiest bastards^Wperfectionists about coding style, getting the proper Signed-off-by, sending plain text email, etc. I thought a couple applicants would be able to complete maybe one or two patches, tops. Boy was I wrong!" In the end, 41 applicants submitted 374 patches to the kernel, of which 137 were accepted.
23 May 01:33

Benedict Cumberbatch frowns on "Cumberbitches"

by gguillotte
Cumberbatch himself has recently piped up about the Cumber-"B"-word faction after having made light of their existence to other press outlets (including our own). He refuses to call them by their name and instead refers to them as the "Cumberwomen" or "Cumbergirls." "It's not even politeness," the 36-year-old actor told The Times of London. "I won't allow you to be my b----es. I think it sets feminism back so many notches. You are… Cumberpeople," he said.
23 May 01:33

seerofsarcasm: FUCK I CAN’T



23 May 01:10

What Professors Can Learn From "Hard Core" MOOC Students

by samzenpus
jyosim writes "Hundreds of people are spending 20 or 30 hours a week just taking free Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs. They're not looking for credit, just the challenge of learning. This Chronicle of Higher Ed story looks at whether these MOOC addicts think they're learning as much as they would in a traditional college course. From the article: 'Consider Anna Nachesa, a 42-year-old single mother in a village near Amsterdam who logs on to MOOCs for several hours each night after dinner with her teenage kids. She has always found TV boring, she says, and for her, MOOCs replace reading books. She is a physicist by training, with a degree from Moscow State University, and she works as a software developer. "This stuff is actually addictive," she says. In some ways the lure is like Everest: Some want to climb it to see if they can. "The Dutch have the proverb 'If you never shoot, you already missed,'" she says.'"

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22 May 02:43

House Bill Would Mandate Smart Gun Tech By U.S. Manufacturers

by Soulskill

"Oh no, I can't go out shooting today because I wasn't responsible enough to charge my gun! I really wish I didn't have to have that responsibility while shooting things."

Lucas123 writes "U.S. Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass) is pushing a bill that would require all U.S. handgun manufacturers to include 'personalization technology' in their weapons. Tierney said he got the idea for The Personalized Handgun Safety Act of 2013 from the latest James Bond film, Skyfall. In it Bond escapes death when his handgun, which is equipped with technology that recognizes his fingerprints, becomes inoperable when a bad guy picks it up. 'This technology, however, isn't just for the movies — it's a reality,' Tierney said. Tierney pointed to a myriad of cases where the smart gun tech could prevent children from being harmed or killed in firearms accidents. Jim Wallace, executive director of the Massachusetts Gun Owners Action League, the official state association of the NRA, said he knows of no gun owners who would want smart gun technology on their weapons. Wallace said any technology that may impede the proper function of a weapon is a problem. He pointed to the fact that any integrated processor technology would also require a battery of some kind, which could pose a system failure if it lost power."

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22 May 00:56

German Researchers Hit 40 Gbps On Wireless Link

by Unknown Lamer
judgecorp writes "German researchers from the Fraunhover and Karlsruhe institutes have achieved 40Gbps transfers over 1km using a wireless link. The new record raises the hope that point-to-point wireless could be used instead of expensive fibers in some rural broadband applications." Partially thanks to transmitting between 200GHz and 280GHz.

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22 May 00:55

The Firing Offense

by Charles Robinson

Egon was fortunate enough to land a front-line support job fresh out of college, but he didn’t enjoy a single minute of it. He continued to slog thru the seven circles of Helldesk for about a year until he found an opportunity to move on. An opening at nearby WTF University’s Electronic Engineering department needed to be filled by a well-rounded IT guy. Egon didn’t think he had much of a chance to land the job, but desperation made him try.

The head of the Engineering department, Bill, invited Egon in for an interview. “I’m not going to lie to you,” Bill said. “We don’t have anyone to keep our computer systems running right now since the last guy left on a ‘Mission’ to South America. We’re in a bind here so if you know the difference between a computer chip and a potato chip, you’re qualified enough.” The interview didn’t get any harder. He explained to Bill what knowledge he had and asked what the workload and hours would be like. “Oh, I don’t know. We don’t care what hours you work as long as you’re available if we need you. If nothing is going wrong with the computers, feel free to make yourself at home in our lab and do some ‘research’ of your own. Would you be able to start next week?”

It was hard to say “Yes” any faster than Egon did.

Several weeks at WTF U flew by and Egon knew this was his dream job. He made more money, the work load was very light and he didn’t have to deal with complete morons on the phone any more. He couldn’t think of any set of circumstances where he would leave, especially not for a silly ‘Mission’.

The biggest problem Egon ever faced was determining just what to screw around with during his ample downtime. There was the 16 core workstation that he installed “borrowed” copies of several computer games on. There was the electronics lab where he would make Frankenstein devices out of spare circuit boards and resistors. He even wired up some motion sensors to the doors so they made the Star Trek door opening noise when someone entered.

Egon was free to do nearly anything. He discovered the “environmental testing chamber” was just the right temperature to keep a case of beer refreshingly cold. He spent his lunch breaks sipping a few brews then crushing the cans with a device he made out of an old vacuum pump. During times when WTF U was out of session and the department was practically empty, he would include more illict, combustible refreshment with his liquid lunch. The industrial ventilation system took care of the smoke.

Any of these things might have been a firing offense, anywhere else. The students loved him, the faculty were happy with his performance, and Bill hadn’t heard a single complaint. Something else entirely got Egon fired.

One day, he found some old mag-stripe readers in a forgotten desk drawer. Egon blew the dust off and connected one to his workstation via parallel port. More-so out of curiosity than malice, he decided to see how hard cloning his WTF U security badge might be. His badge did everything from pay for his lunch in the cafeteria to grant him access to areas restricted only to Engineering personnel.

The stripe on the card was bi-phase encoded and used a standard ISO character set so Egon was able to write a quick app to decode what was essentially plaintext. One swipe, and Egon was stunned to find only his staff ID number staring back at him. Impossible! Everyone’s staff ID number was available in the University’s directory. Anyone could view it. Armed with someone’s staff ID number, Egon or anyone with the know-how could make an ID card from credit card, train ticket or just a piece of card with some VHS tape stuck to the back. Once the card was cloned, it might be used for anything from paying for parking to getting in to the BioChem lab where the smallpox sample was kept!

Egon couldn’t keep this knowledge to himself. He called Bill right away and explained the issue. “Thanks for reporting this!” Bill said. “I’ll pass this on to my superiors and make sure they know you’re the one who discovered this!” Egon hung up and beamed with pride. Surely he had done a good deed and saved WTF U unthinkable troubles down the line. Maybe he would even get a raise or a promotion to “security expert” or something!

The next day, Egon came to work, ready to receive his due accolades. Instead, he found Bill at his desk frowning and holding an empty box. “I’m sorry, kid. The powers-that-be interpreted your findings as a blatant attack on our security system and they told me to fire you immediately… There’s nothing I can do. You did good work, while you were here.” Egon’s head spun as he grasped at the reality that his dream job came to an abrupt end.

Egon struggled to say something to Bill. All he could come up with was “Can I at least get my beer out of the enviro test chamber?”

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21 May 01:14

Skype messages don't get end-to-end encryption, says Ars

by Xeni Jardin
Microsoft-owned Skype regularly scans the contents of Skype messages for signs of fraud, according to an Ars Technica report, and company managers may log the results indefinitely. If true, that means the belief that Skype offers end-to-end encryption under the communicator's control is false.

20 May 17:49

May 20, 1990: Advice on Life and Creative Integrity from Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson

by Maria Popova

“The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive.”

‘Tis the season for glorious life advice dispensed by cap-and-gown-clad elders to cap-and-gown-clad youngsters, emanating a halo effect of timeless wisdom the rest of us can absorb any day, at any stage of life. On May 20, 1990, Bill Watterson, creator of the beloved Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, took the podium at Kenyon College — the same stage David Foster Wallace would occupy 15 years later to deliver one of history’s most memorable commencement addresses — and gave the graduating class a gift of equally remarkable insight and impact.

Watterson begins the speech by articulating the same sentiment at the heart of the most unforgettable commencement addresses: the notion that not-knowing is not only a part of the journey, but an integral part:

I have a recurring dream about Kenyon. In it, I’m walking to the post office on the way to my first class at the start of the school year. Suddenly it occurs to me that I don’t have my schedule memorized, and I’m not sure which classes I’m taking, or where exactly I’m supposed to be going.
As I walk up the steps to the postoffice, I realize I don’t have my box key, and in fact, I can’t remember what my box number is. I’m certain that everyone I know has written me a letter, but I can’t get them. I get more flustered and annoyed by the minute. I head back to Middle Path, racking my brains and asking myself, “How many more years until I graduate? …Wait, didn’t I graduate already?? How old AM I?” Then I wake up.

Experience is food for the brain. And four years at Kenyon is a rich meal. I suppose it should be no surprise that your brains will probably burp up Kenyon for a long time. And I think the reason I keep having the dream is because its central image is a metaphor for a good part of life: that is, not knowing where you’re going or what you’re doing.

Like Chuck Close (“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”), Isabel Allende (“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”), E. B. White (“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”), and Tchaikovsky (“A self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood.”), Watterson speaks to the importance of work ethic and grit — but, like Freud, he places playfulness at the epicenter of creativity:

It’s surprising how hard we’ll work when the work is done just for ourselves. And with all due respect to John Stuart Mill, maybe utilitarianism is overrated. If I’ve learned one thing from being a cartoonist, it’s how important playing is to creativity and happiness. My job is essentially to come up with 365 ideas a year.

If you ever want to find out just how uninteresting you really are, get a job where the quality and frequency of your thoughts determine your livelihood. I’ve found that the only way I can keep writing every day, year after year, is to let my mind wander into new territories. To do that, I’ve had to cultivate a kind of mental playfulness.


At school, new ideas are thrust at you every day. Out in the world, you’ll have to find the inner motivation to search for new ideas on your own. With any luck at all, you’ll never need to take an idea and squeeze a punchline out of it, but as bright, creative people, you’ll be called upon to generate ideas and solutions all your lives. Letting your mind play is the best way to solve problems.


A playful mind is inquisitive, and learning is fun. If you indulge your natural curiosity and retain a sense of fun in new experience, I think you’ll find it functions as a sort of shock absorber for the bumpy road ahead.

Watterson stresses the importance of refueling the drained creative tank not by indulging in mindless entertainment but by nourishing stimulation — because, after all, “garbage in, garbage out”:

We’re not really taught how to recreate constructively. We need to do more than find diversions; we need to restore and expand ourselves. Our idea of relaxing is all too often to plop down in front of the television set and let its pandering idiocy liquefy our brains. Shutting off the thought process is not rejuvenating; the mind is like a car battery — it recharges by running.

On the importance of defining your own success and holding on to your sense of purpose:

You may be surprised to find how quickly daily routine and the demands of “just getting by” absorb your waking hours. You may be surprised matters of habit rather than thought and inquiry. You may be surprised to find how quickly you start to see your life in terms of other people’s expectations rather than issues.

Recounting his early days of weathering the rejection storm, Watterson illustrates the soul-crushing effect of doing intellectually and creatively vacant money-work rather than work true to your calling:

For years I got nothing but rejection letters, and I was forced to accept a real job.

A REAL job is a job you hate. I designed car ads and grocery ads in the windowless basement of a convenience store, and I hated every single minute of the 4-1/2 million minutes I worked there. My fellow prisoners at work were basically concerned about how to punch the time clock at the perfect second where they would earn another 20 cents without doing any work for it. … It was a rude shock to see just how empty and robotic life can be when you don’t care about what you’re doing, and the only reason you’re there is to pay the bills.

In fact, the central message of Watterson’s speech is that the myth of the overnight success is just that — a myth — something cultural icons like Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell knew well. At the end of the day, what counts is not prestige or money but pure joy in the work:

I tell you all this because it’s worth recognizing that there is no such thing as an overnight success. You will do well to cultivate the resources in yourself that bring you happiness outside of success or failure. The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. At that time, we turn around and say, yes, this is obviously where I was going all along. It’s a good idea to try to enjoy the scenery on the detours, because you’ll probably take a few.

I still haven’t drawn the strip as long as it took me to get the job. To endure five years of rejection to get a job requires either a faith in oneself that borders on delusion, or a love of the work. I loved the work.

Drawing comic strips for five years without pay drove home the point that the fun of cartooning wasn’t in the money; it was in the work. This turned out to be an important realization when my break finally came.

But as his comic strip became wildly successful and he was tossed into the $12-billion-a-year cartoon merchandising business, Watterson found himself “spending almost as much time screaming at executives as drawing” and saw the gruesome other side of the same coin:

Selling out is usually more a matter of buying in. Sell out, and you’re really buying into someone else’s system of values, rules and rewards.

The so-called “opportunity” I faced would have meant giving up my individual voice for that of a money-grubbing corporation. It would have meant my purpose in writing was to sell things, not say things. My pride in craft would be sacrificed to the efficiency of mass production and the work of assistants. Authorship would become committee decision. Creativity would become work for pay. Art would turn into commerce. In short, money was supposed to supply all the meaning I’d need.

But of course even then, long before the proclaimed “new age of fulfillment, in which the great dream is to trade up from money to meaning,” Watterson knew that what was being offered to him was a robbery rather than a gift. In reflecting on the experience, he revisits the question of work ethic, this time in light of defining your own success:

You will find your own ethical dilemmas in all parts of your lives, both personal and professional. We all have different desires and needs, but if we don’t discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled. Sooner or later, we are all asked to compromise ourselves and the things we care about. We define ourselves by our actions. With each decision, we tell ourselves and the world who we are. Think about what you want out of this life, and recognize that there are many kinds of success.

He stresses the vital difference between “having an enviable career” and “being a happy person,” admonishing about the “hedonic treadmill” of achievement:

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive. Ambition is only understood if it’s to rise to the top of some imaginary ladder of success. Someone who takes an undemanding job because it affords him the time to pursue other interests and activities is considered a flake. A person who abandons a career in order to stay home and raise children is considered not to be living up to his potential — as if a job title and salary are the sole measure of human worth.

You’ll be told in a hundred ways, some subtle and some not, to keep climbing, and never be satisfied with where you are, who you are, and what you’re doing. There are a million ways to sell yourself out, and I guarantee you’ll hear about them.

To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.

He concludes by echoing Rilke:

Your preparation for the real world is not in the answers you’ve learned, but in the questions you’ve learned how to ask yourself.

Complement with more soul-stirring wisdom from Debbie Millman, Neil Gaiman, Greil Marcus, David Foster Wallace, Jacqueline Novogratz, Ellen DeGeneres, Aaron Sorkin, Barack Obama, Ray Bradbury, J. K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, Robert Krulwich, Meryl Streep, and Jeff Bezos.

Thanks, @monicapillai

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19 May 19:22

Electronics-Loving 'Crazy Ants' Invading Southern US

by timothy
From an article at the Houston Chronicle (not The Onion) comes a report of concern to anyone in a warm climate with, well, electronics. From the article: "According to researchers at The University of Texas at Austin, invasive 'crazy ants' are slowly displacing fire ants in the southeastern United States. These 'Tawny Crazy Ants' have a peculiar predilection toward electronics as well. 'They nest in electronics and create short circuits, as they create a contact bridge between two points when they get electrocuted they release an alarm pheromone,' says UT research assistant Edward LeBrun. 'The other ants are attracted to the chemicals that other ants give off,' he adds. At this point, more ants arrive and create a larger nest." The L.A. Times also has a report, which says "Thus far, the crazy ants are not falling for the traditional poisons used to eliminate fire ant mounds. And when local mounds are destroyed manually, they are quickly regenerated. 'They don't sting like fire ants do, but aside from that they are much bigger pests,' LeBrun said. 'There are videos on YouTube of people sweeping out dustpans full of these ants from their bathroom. You have to call pest control operators every three or four months just to keep the infestation under control. It's very expensive.'"

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19 May 19:16

What's Your Favorite Cheap Home-Cooked Meal?

by Adam Dachis

Cooking at home can save you a lot of money, but you can also rack up a huge grocery bill learning to make certain dishes that don't always turn out better than their cheaper counterparts. What are your favorite inexpensive, home-cooked meals?



18 May 16:45

Of 1000 Americans Polled, Most Would Ban Home Printing of Guns

by timothy

how? of 1000 American's polled, I imagine most would love to have it rain steak every wednesday (assuming it would biodegrade in a week).

DRM could be a horror on the printing industry.

An anonymous reader writes "In results that may signal some discomfort with the enormous DIY promise of 3D printing and similar home-manufacturing technologies, a new Reason-Rupe poll finds that an otherwise gun control-weary American public thinks owners of 3D printers ought not be allowed to make their own guns or gun parts. Of course, implementing such a restrictive policy might be tad more difficult than measuring popular preferences." This poll is of only 1000 people, though; your mileage may vary.

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18 May 16:39

Yuck! NYC fourth grader sneaks camera into school, makes documentary about gross cafeteria food

by Cory Doctorow

This looks so much better than my high school cafeteria lunch, I am not certain about his complaints.

Here's a clip from an upcoming documentar by a fourth grader who snuck a camera into school to document his horrible school lunches and the vast distance between the food that the school claims to serve and food he and his friends end up eating.

Zachary is a fourth grader at a large New York City public elementary school. Each day he reads the Department of Education lunch menu online to see what is being served. The menu describes delicious and nutritious cuisine that reads as if it came from the finest restaurants. However, when Zachary gets to school, he finds a very different reality. Armed with a concealed video camera and a healthy dose of rebellious courage, Zachary embarks on a six month covert mission to collect video footage of his lunch and expose the truth about the City's school food service program.

Yuck: A 4th Grader's Short Documentary About School Lunch (via Reddit)


18 May 00:52

mercurialme: I knew y’all would have a gif set of this by...


I knew y’all would have a gif set of this by morning.


18 May 00:30

97% of Climate Science Papers Agree Global Warming Is Man-made

by Soulskill
An anonymous reader writes "A meta-study published yesterday looked at over 12,000 peer-reviewed papers on climate science that appeared in journals between 1991 and 2011. The papers were evaluated and categorized by how they implicitly or explicitly endorsed humans as a contributing cause of global warming. The meta-study found that an overwhelming 97.1% of the papers that took a stance endorsed human-cause global warming. They also asked the 1,200 of the scientists involved in the research to self-evaluate their own studies, with nearly identical results. In the interest of transparency, the meta-study results were published in an open access journal, and the researchers set up a website so that anybody can check their results. From the article: '... a memo from communications strategist Frank Luntz leaked in 2002 advised Republicans, "Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate." This campaign has been successful. A 2012 poll from U.S. Pew Research Center found less than half of Americans thought scientists agreed humans were causing global warming. The media has assisted in this public misconception, with most climate stories "balanced" with a "skeptic" perspective. However, this results in making the 2–3% seem like 50%. In trying to achieve "balance," the media has actually created a very unbalanced perception of reality. As a result, people believe scientists are still split about what's causing global warming, and therefore there is not nearly enough public support or motivation to solve the problem.'"

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18 May 00:27

Larry Page: You Worry Too Much About Medical Privacy

by samzenpus
jfruh writes "Larry Page revealed that he'd been suffering from a vocal cord ailment that impaired his ability to speak for more than a year. The positive feedback he got from opening up about it inspired him to tell attendees at Google I/O that we should all be less uptight about keeping our medical records private. As far as Page is concerned, pretty much the only legitimate reason for worry on this score is fear of being denied health insurance. 'Maybe we should change the rules around insurance so that they have to insure people,' he said."

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18 May 00:22

Georgia Tech and Udacity Partner for Online M.S. in Computer Science

by Soulskill
Georgia Tech and Udacity — the online courseware project led by Sebastian Thrun — have announced a plan to offer an accredited M.S. Computer Science program online. The two organizations are also working with AT&T. This is the first time a major university has made an actual degree available solely through the MOOC format. Getting a degree in this manner is going to be much cheaper than a traditional degree: "... students also will pay a fraction of the cost of traditional on-campus master’s programs; total tuition for the program is initially expected to be below $7,000." U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have quickly become one of the most significant catalysts of innovation in higher education. As parents know all too well, America urgently needs new ideas about how to make higher education accessible and affordable. This new collaboration between Georgia Tech, AT&T and Udacity, and the application of the MOOC concept to advanced-degree programs, will further the national debate — pushing from conversations about technology to new models of instruction and new linkages between higher education and employers." Georgia Tech is looking at the big picture: "At present, around 160,000 master’s degrees are bestowed in the United States every year in computer science and related subject disciplines; the worldwide market is almost certainly much larger, perhaps even an order of magnitude larger."

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18 May 00:19

George Takei responds to "traditional" marriage fans

by Xeni Jardin

Star Trek star and noted homosexual George Takei responds to bigots who believe in restricting the right to love to straight people only: an image gallery on Imgur. Oh, snap, oh glorious snap.


17 May 02:23

North Carolina may ban Tesla sales to prevent “Unfair Competition”

by Mark Frauenfelder
A car dealership trade union in North Carolina has persuaded the state's Senate Commerce Committee to unanimously approve a law that would prohibit automakers from selling cars.
The bill is being pushed by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, a trade group representing the state’s franchised dealerships. Its sponsor is state Sen. Tom Apodaca, a Republican from Henderson, who has said the goal is to prevent unfair competition between manufacturers and dealers. What makes it “unfair competition” as opposed to plain-old “competition” — something Republicans are typically inclined to favor — is not entirely clear.

North Carolina May Ban Tesla Sales To Prevent “Unfair Competition” (Thanks, Marty!)


16 May 03:09

Oh God.

by Luke Plunkett

Oh God. FreeCiv, the open source "tribute" to the classic strategy series, now runs on HTML5. Meaning it can run in browsers. And on your phone. Play here. Thanks PC Gamer.

16 May 03:00

Paper Man (1971) - early movie about hackers (complete on YouTube)

by Mark Frauenfelder

Actually pretty good.

Edgertor says: "No list of hacker movies i've found includes this one from 1971, it might also be the earliest!"

A prank that starts with a group of college students creating a fictitious person so they can get a credit card develops into a plot that leaves three of them dead.

With Dean Stockwell and Stephanie Powers! I can't wait to watch it as soon as I'm finished with my hard day of posting links here at the Boing Boing headquarters.


16 May 00:54

Dictionary of Numbers: browser extension humanizes the numbers on the Web

by Cory Doctorow

Dictionary of Numbers is a Chrome extension that watches your browsing activity for mentions of large numerical measurements and automatically inserts equivalences in real-world terms that are meant to clarify things. For example, a story about a 300,000 acre forest fire would be annotated to note that this is about the area of LA or Hong Kong; or that 315 million people is about the population of the USA.

I noticed that my friends who were good at math generally rely on "landmark quantities", quantities they know by heart because they relate to them in human terms. They know, for example, that there are about 315 million people in the United States and that the most damaging Atlantic hurricanes cost anywhere from $20 billion to $100 billion. When they explain things to me, they use these numbers to give me a better sense of context about the subject, turning abstract numbers into something more concrete.

When I realized they were doing this, I thought this process could be automated, that perhaps through contextual descriptions people could become more familiar with quantities and begin evaluating and reasoning about them. There are many ways of approaching this problem, but given that most of the words we read are probably inside web browsers,** It might be interesting to to develop a similar system for use in spoken lectures. I decided to build a Chrome extension that inserts human explanations of numbers into web pages.

Dictionary of Numbers

(via XKCD blog)


16 May 00:47

Wal-Mart Won't Sign Pact, Has Own Way To Protect Workers

Following a factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,000 people, Wal-Mart has declined to join a multi-company factory safety accord to try to prevent future disasters. Instead, the world's largest retailer announced its own set of inspection and safety measures.

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16 May 00:31

Federal Judge Dismisses Movie Piracy Complaint

by Unknown Lamer
cluedweasel writes "A Federal judge in Medford, OR has dismissed a piracy case lodged against 34 Oregonians. Judge Ann Aiken ruled that Voltage Pictures LLC unfairly lumped the defendants into what she called a 'reverse class action suit' to save on legal expenses and possibly to intimidate them into paying thousands of dollars for viewing a movie that could be bought or rented for less than $10." The judge was not enthused that they offered to settle for $7500 while noting that potential penalties could be as much as $150,000.

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16 May 00:29

Google's New Conversational Search Makes Star Trek-Style Search Real

by Alan Henry

Google's inched ever closer to the dream of Star Trek-style computing with its new Conversational Search, unveiled today at Google I/O. You start a search by saying "Okay, Google...," speak your query, whether it's "when does my flight leave" or trivia like "what's the population of my town." Google responds, both by voice and with text results.



16 May 00:28

Turn Ice Cream into a Loaf of Sweet Bread

by Adam Dachis

If you want a loaf of sweet bread or a cake, starting with ice cream can save you a lot of time. Because ice cream contains many of the ingredients you need for these recipes—sugar, eggs, and fat—you can save yourself some time with just a few scoops.



15 May 19:56

Calvin and Hobbes for May 15, 2013


...a wild juggler appears!