pigrabbitbear writes "Even as we all love to debate the scholarly merits of Wikipedia, there's no denying that it's an immensely powerful research and learning tool. That goes doubly so in poor nations, where access to education materials can be limited to nonexistent. To that end, Wikimedia started the Wikipedia Zero project, which aims to partner with mobile service providers to bring Wikipedia to poor regions free of charge. It's a killer strategy, because while computer and internet access is still fleeting for much of the world, cell phones are far more ubiquitous. Wikimedia claims that four mobile partnerships signed since 2012 brings free Wiki service to 330 million cell subscribers in 35 countries, a huge boon for folks whose phones have web capability but who can't afford data charges."
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New submitter ThatsNotPudding writes "The U.S. Supreme court has rejected pleas to allow any challenges to the FISA wiretapping law unless someone can prove they've been harmed by it. 'The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, was originally designed to allow spying on the communications of foreign powers. But after the September 11 attacks, FISA courts were authorized to target a wide array of international communications, including communications between Americans and foreigners. ... In this case, the plaintiffs' groups said their communications were likely being scooped up by the government's expanded spying powers in violation of their constitutional rights. Today's decision, a 5-4 vote along ideological lines by the nation's highest court, definitively ends their case. In an opinion (PDF) by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled that these groups don't have the right to sue at all, because they can't prove they were being spied on.'" Further coverage at SCOTUSblog.
dp619 writes "Penn State law professor Clark Asay has written an editorial on F/OSS patent risk, saying, '...under the current patent system, it's entirely possible to obtain a patent that reads on software that FOSS communities independently create. Consequently, FOSS communities and their users are vulnerable to third party patent claims, even absent any sort of wrongdoing or copying on their part.' He suggests that developers collaborate to prevent bad or frivolous patents from being issued in the first place. The ongoing work of Linux Defenders and Peer-to-Patent are cited as good examples of how the FOSS community's collaborative spirit can help it counteract potential legal threats."
rtoz writes "Code.org has released infographics and a video to explain why students should be taught to code in school. They've gathered support from leaders in politics and the tech industry. Mark Zuckerberg says, 'Our policy at Facebook is literally to hire as many talented engineers as we can find. There just aren't enough people who are trained and have these skills today.' Former U.S. President Bill Clinton adds, 'At a time when people are saying, "I want a good job – I got out of college and I couldn't find one," every single year in America, there is a standing demand for 120,000 people who are training in computer science.' Bill Gates said, 'Learning to write programs stretches your mind, and helps you think better, creates a way of thinking about things that I think is helpful in all domains.' Google's Eric Schmidt is looking beyond first-world countries: 'For most people on Earth, the digital revolution hasn't even started yet. Within the next 10 years, all that will change. Let's get the whole world coding!'" Part of the standing demand for computer science jobs may be influenced by bad policies from tech companies, like Yahoo's ban on working from home.
concealment writes "Many of us have had the experience of going to Amazon to buy one thing but checking out with a huge shopping cart of items that we didn't initially seek—or even know were available. Amazon's merchandising often benefits Amazon's customers, but trademark owners who lose sales to their competition due to it aren't as thrilled. Fortunately for Amazon, a California federal court recently upheld Amazon's merchandising practices in its internal search results."
Hugh Pickens writes "UPI reports that for the first time in the history of Nobel Prize, one of the Nobel Prize medals, along with the diploma presented by the Nobel committee, is on auction — with an opening bid of $250,000. Awarded to Francis Crick, who along with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1962 'for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material,' the medal will be auctioned off in New York City, by Heritage Auctions. The medal has been kept in a safe deposit box in California since Crick's widow passed away in 2007 and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Francis Crick Institute of disease research scheduled to open in London in 2015. '"By auctioning his Nobel it will finally be made available for public display and be well looked after. Our hope is that, by having it available for display, it can be an inspiration to the next generation of scientists," says Crick's granddaughter, Kindra Crick. "My granddad was honored to have received the Nobel Prize, but he was not the type to display his awards; his office walls contained a large chalkboard, artwork and a portrait of Charles Darwin."'"
New submitter OlivierB writes "I am moving to a new house in the UK. The house will have very fast broadband but there is only one TV/cable aerial to plug into which is also very inconveniently located in the property. The cable TV provider can move it (for a high fee), but the biggest issue is that their channel packages are just too expensive and not appealing to me. Ideally, I would like access to the UK Freeview channels, and maybe a few extras such as Discovery Channel, Eurosport etc. All of this content would be available via IPTV, which I could watch from an HTPC or simple set-top boxes. Do you have any ideas to share with me?"
An anonymous reader writes "Google is working on identifying Chrome tabs that are currently playing audio (or recording it). The feature is expected to show an audio animation if a tab is broadcasting or recording sound. François Beaufort spotted the new feature, a part of which is already available in the latest Chromium build."
The times haven't been the kindest to B&N: retail sales are down and the Kindle is outselling the Nook. Joining Best Buy and Dell, B&N might be going private. From the article: "Barnes & Noble’s largest shareholder, Leonard Riggio, made an offer Monday to buy out the struggling company and take it private ... Essentially, it would split the company in two: one half would be Riggio’s private brick-and-mortar stores and related assets, the other the publicly-traded Nook and college bookstore management division."
The latest Firefox for Android nightly build now features a number of changes to the UI with the goals of "...keeping a clear distinction between different types of tabs; making better use of the screen real estate on different form-factors and orientations; and being more compliant with Android’s design language. ... the tabs tray is now divided into sections for each type of tab — regular, private, and remote — so that you always keep things separate and organized. Furthermore, once you select a private tab, the main toolbar becomes dark as a clear sign that you're in a different browsing mode. ... We now use a horizontal scrolling tabs tray whenever it improves our use of the screen space. This is achieved with a TwoWayView ... We've recently landed a new skin for Firefox for Android that is more aligned with Android's Holo design language. Almost all textures and gradients were replaced by flat colors giving a much lighter feel to the browser."
First time accepted submitter AchilleTalon writes "Research by Harvard professor David Keith suggests that the global capacity for energy generation from wind power has been overestimated, and that geophysical / climate effects of turbines will reduce the benefits of large-scale power installations. 'People have often thought there's no upper bound for wind power—that it's one of the most scalable power sources," he says. After all, gusts and breezes don't seem likely to 'run out' on a global scale in the way oil wells might run dry. Yet the latest research suggests that the generating capacity has been overestimated."
OverTheGeicoE writes "TSA recently announced that it would remove all of Rapiscan's X-ray body scanners from airports by June. As part of this effort, it is trying to move a millimeter-wave body scanner from the Helena, Montana airport to replace an X-ray unit at a busier airport. Strangely enough, they have encountered resistance from the Helena's Airport Manager, Ron Mercer. Last Thursday, workers came to remove the machine, but were prevented from doing so by airport officials. Why? Perhaps Mercer agrees with Cindi Martin, airport director at Montana's Glacier Park International Airport airport, who called the scheduled removal of her airport's scanner 'a great disservice to the flying public' in part because it 'removed the need for the enhanced pat-down.'"
A couple of weeks ago you had the chance to ask Khan Academy lead developer Ben Kamens about the future of online education and the academy itself. Below you'll find his answers to the questions we sent and a few extra that he found interesting.
ananyo writes "The drowned remnants of an ancient micro-continent may lie scattered beneath the waters between Madagascar and India, a new study suggests. Evidence for the long-lost land comes from Mauritius, a volcanic island about 900 kilometers east of Madagascar (abstract) The oldest volcanic rocks on the island date to about 8.9 million years ago. Yet grain-by-grain analyses of beach sand collected at two sites on the Mauritian coast revealed around 20 zircons — tiny crystals of zirconium silicate that are exceedingly resistant to erosion or chemical change — that were far older. One of these zircons was at least 1.97 billion years old. The researchers that made the discovery think that geologically recent volcanic eruptions brought shards of the buried continent to the Earth's surface, where the zircons eroded from their parent rocks to pepper the island's sands. Analyses of Earth's gravitational field reveal several broad areas where sea-floor crust at the bottom of the Indian ocean is much thicker than normal — at least 25 to 30 kilometers thick, rather than the normal 5 to 10 kilometers. Those crustal anomalies may be the remains of a landmass that researchers have now dubbed Mauritia, which they suggest split from Madagascar when tectonic rifting and sea-floor spreading sent the Indian subcontinent surging northeast millions of years ago."
Lasrick writes "A Reuters blog post by Yousaf Butt explains the science, or lack thereof, behind recent claims that Iran is closer to building the bomb. Butt has been writing in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, most recently blasting the unsourced AP 'Iranian graph' that claimed to show nuclear testing activity as well as the Washington Post story about Iran's alleged order of 100,000 magnets for their centrifuges."
An anonymous reader writes "Days after the killing of leftist blogger Thaba Baba, mosques throughout Bangladesh called for a popular uprising to demand the killing of other bloggers who had held a rally calling for the death of Jama'at-e-Islami leaders convicted of war crimes. This happens in an atmosphere of ongoing tension between Left and Right, with the leftist government threatening to outlaw rightist parties while the right uses violence to quiet selected enemies."
SchrodingerZ writes "Raymond Cusick, a production designer for the BBC show Doctor Who from 1963 to 1966, has died from illness. 'Terry Nation, who died in 1997, wrote the 1963 story The Daleks, in which the "satanic pepperpots" first appeared, but it was Cusick who came up with the machines' distinctive look, including the bobble-like sensors, eyestalk, sucker and exterminator weapons.' His horrid creation has remained a prime enemy in Doctor Who for over 50 years, and have remained relatively unchanged. His tireless work however was never fully awarded, as his only pay for the project was about £100. Cusick also worked on such shows as Z Cars, Dr Finlay's Casebook and The Forsyte Saga to The Duchess of Duke Street, When the Boat Comes In and Rentaghost. He officially retired in 1987. Claire Heawood, Cusick's daughter, has said that her father was 'suffering from an illness and died peacefully in his sleep on Thursday.'"
bill_mcgonigle writes "I just bought bitcoins from the World's first Bitcoin ATM at Liberty Forum. I created an account using an Android Bitcoin client and held up its QR code to the Raspberry Pi-based device's optical scanner. After I fed in a $20 Federal Reserve Note, I got back a confirmation QR code on its display, which I then scanned and checked the third-party confirmation URL. The machine can function on any wireless network and will soon be available for purchase by merchants, who can make a commission on customers' Bitcoin purchases."
Several readers sent word of a Mozilla announcement that 18 carriers have committed to launching phones running Firefox OS. The carriers are primarily from markets in South America and Europe. They include Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, and Sprint. The devices running Firefox OS will be made by LG, ZTE, Huawei, and Alcatel, and all will be powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. The new mobile operating system is built to allow HTML5 apps to run directly on the device, a solution Mozilla thinks will give it an edge when playing catch-up to all the software available for Android and iOS devices. "Developers are busy and don't have time to learn a new programming language. We believe that the only remaining eco-system is the web and there are more developers for the web than for any other platform in the world," said Jay Sullivan. According to Reuters, "Mozilla will initially look to compete in so-called 'emerging economies' in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia, where many people still use older phone models and have yet to upgrade to more expensive smartphones that feature touchscreens and high-speed Internet connections."
Freshly Exhumed writes "An endorsement from Oprah Winfrey; a film deal from Steven Spielberg; a debut at the top of The New York Times bestsellers list. These are the things every author craves most. While the first two require the favor of a benevolent deity, the third can be had by anyone with the ability to write a check — a pretty big one, to ResultSource, a San Diego-based marketing consultancy — in what Forbes says is essentially a laundering operation aimed at deceiving the book-buying public into believing a title is more in-demand than it is. Soren Kaplan, a business consultant and speaker, hired ResultSource to promote his book Leapfrogging. Responding to the WSJ article on his website, Kaplan breaks out the economics of making the list. 'It's no wonder few people in the industry want to talk about bestseller campaigns,' he writes. 'Put bluntly, they allow people with enough money, contacts, and know-how to buy their way onto bestseller lists.'"