Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
In order to provide an alternative to IE on Windows 8, Firefox needs a Metro UI. Luckily, development of a Metro interface for Firefox is well underway. The current build reuses the Android interface XUL (by virtue of being based on Fennec). The latest test release features lots of platform integration support: "We have Metro snap working, you can snap another Metro app to the right or left of Firefox and continue browsing. We also have HTML file input controls tied up to the Metro file picker. ... implemented the Windows 8 search contract, you can use the Search Charm from any screen on Windows 8. If you enter a URL, it will be loaded. If you enter anything else, it will be searched in your default search engine. We also implemented the Windows 8 share contract, you can use the Share Charm from any Firefox page to share that page to another application. Once you select the Share Charm it will list the applications you can share to, for example: Mail, Twitter, or Facebook." If you're interested in following development, the team has made a Mercurial repository available.
rtobyr writes "We use the Internet — E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs to communicate with colleagues, friends, and family. When I was in Iraq with the Marine Corps, we used e-mail (secured with encryption and stuff, but e-mail nonetheless) to communicate the commanding officer's order that a combat mission should be carried out. My third grade daughter produces her own YouTube videos, and can create public servers for her games with virtual private network technology. Yet here I am trusting a third grade girl to deliver memos to me about her educational requirements in an age in which I can't remember the last time I used paper. Teachers could have distribution lists of the parents. The kids' homework is printed. Therefore, it must have started as a computer file (I hope they're not still using mimeograph machines). Teachers could e-mail a summary of what's going on, and attach the homework files along with other notices about field trips or conferences that parents should be aware of. Teachers could have an easy way to post all these files to the Internet on blogs. With RSS, parents could subscribe to receive everything that teachers put online. If teachers want to add to the blog their own personal comments about how the school year is going, then all the parents would see that also, and perhaps have the opportunity to comment on the blog. It seems to me that with the right processes, the cost and additional workload would be insignificant. For example, instead of developing a syllabus in MS Word, use Wordpress. Have schools simply not paid attention to the past decade of technology, or is there a reason that these things aren't in place?" It seems odd that primary schools in at least the U.S. don't use technology to communicate with students much. My younger sister went to a private school that made reasonable use of Blackboard, but that seems to be the exception.
In a posting to the Guile developers list today, it was announced that the Emacs-Lisp compiler for Guile has matured enough to run actual elisp programs. The author included a screencast demoing the new compiler running the Dunnet dungeon crawler. It is still a bit hackish: you need a load file that fakes a few Emacs side functions. In theory, most batch mode programs that don't do buffer manipulation should now work. After a few previous attempts, things could be on track for GNU Emacs 25 based on Guile.
An anonymous reader writes an excerpt from a press release by the University of Chicago: "Analysis of data from the 10-meter South Pole Telescope is providing new support for the most widely accepted explanation of dark energy — the source of the mysterious force that is responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe." The research resulted in three papers involving new constraints on the mass of neutrinos, a measurement of the angular power spectrum of the CMB, and a catalog of newly discovered galaxy clusters. The data lends a bit more support to the cosmological constant theory of dark energy.
An anonymous reader writes "Global Payments, the U.S.-based credit card processor company that experienced a security breach affecting Visa and MasterCard, confirmed that the breached portion of its processing system was confined to North America. The company also finally revealed how many credit card numbers were stolen: around 1,500,000."
New submitter reovirus1 writes "Mike Smith, the character Bubbles on the Canadian TV show Trailer Park Boys, is leading the Race for Space contest that will send one lucky reader into space. 'Throughout the series, Bubbles often talks about his love for space and his lifelong desire to become a spaceman someday, but his poor eyesight has always prevented him from even owning a driver's license. It's a fictional show obviously, but Bubble's desire to go to space on the show was actually born out of my love of space and rocketry. It has been a hobby of mine since I was 5 years old. If I win this chance to go to space, I intend to shoot a documentary of the entire process leading up to the flight, in hopes of inspiring a new generation of young people to become involved in space exploration,' he writes."
First time accepted submitter Duncan J Murray writes "I will be attending a 3-day science conference soon, consisting mainly of lectures, and was wondering what people thought would be the ultimate hardware/software combo note-taking device, taking into account keyboard quality, endurance, portability, discretion & future ease-of-reference. Is a notepad and pen still king? What about an Ipad? N900? Psion 5mx? A small Thinkpad X-series? And if so which OS? Would you have a GUI? Which text-editor?"
theodp writes "Wired's Cade Metz has the scoop on the move away from U.S. network equipment stalwarts, calling it of the best-kept secrets in Silicon Valley. 'Cloud computing is an arms race,' writes Metz. 'The biggest web companies on earth are competing to see who can deliver their services to the most people in the shortest amount of time at the lowest cost. And the cheapest arms come straight from Asia.' Or, as Joyent's Howard Wu puts it, 'It's kind of like buying couches. If you buy one, you go to a retail store. If you buy 10,000 couches, you go straight to the factory.'"
An anonymous reader writes "You can add this one to the short but growing list of employers demanding access to Facebook accounts. After refusing to give her Facebook password to her supervisors, Kimberly Hester was fired by Lewis Cass Intermediate School District from her job as an aide to Frank Squires Elementary in Cassopolis, Michigan. She is now fighting a legal battle with the school district."
First time accepted submitter cardpuncher writes "Having opposed the previous government's attempts to introduce mass surveillance of Internet communications, the Conservatives are planning to introduce the very same policy they previously described as a 'culture of surveillance which goes far beyond counter terrorism and serious crime.' The plan is essentially to allow stored communication data to be trawled without the inconvenience of needing a warrant or even any reasonable suspicion."
Hugh Pickens writes "Michael Scherer writes that the Obama fundraising machine has deployed a new cellular campaign weapon designed 'to trigger the campaign finance equivalent of an impulse buy' during key political moments in the campaign. The tool links two familiar technologies, SMS and one-click purchasing, by sending out an SMS message to cell phones and smart phones of tens of thousands of previous campaign donors giving them a one-click option to give more money. 'Campaign officials hope to be able to return to donors in key moments of emotional excitement,' writes Scherer. One person familiar with the ask says that the response rate has been more than 20 times greater than any text message solicitation Obama has sent out before and and the reason is simple: Even with an iPhone, it remains an arduous hassle to enter all the information that is typically required to buy anything online with a credit card. The trick is that anyone who gives even a few dollars to the Obama campaign is asked if they want to keep their credit cards on file to participate in what the campaign calls 'Quick Donate.' Now donors just need to write '25,' or '10,' and that amount of dollars is immediately drawn from their credit cards. One of the Obama campaign's best fundraising days in 2008, for instance, came right after Sarah Palin's convention speech. Now partisans can 'vent their outrage or enthusiasm by simply typing one number into their phone.'"
00_NOP writes "Everybody (or almost everybody) in England agrees that computing teaching to kids in high school is broken. In response the government promised a radical overhaul and a new curriculum. But then last week it was discovered the government had scrapped the bit of the education department that would develop any such curriculum. Not to be deterred, John Naughton, the Cambridge University academic who wrote the Short History of the Future, has now published his own 'radical' manifesto on how computing should be taught."
First time accepted submitter illtud writes "From April, UK passengers flying to Mexico, Eastern Canada or Cuba will have to submit their details at least 72 hours before boarding to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for pre-flight vetting (as all passengers to the U.S. itself have had to do for a while). If they find against you, you're not getting on the plane, even though you're not going to the U.S. The Independent (UK quality newspaper) has the story."
The Chicago Tribute reports on a ruling announced Friday that the Huffington Post violated no law in profiting enormously from the unpaid contributions of bloggers who wrote much of the content that has spurred the site's success. Says the article: "John E. Koeltel, a district court judge in New York, dismissed a class action sought brought against the Huffington Post by unpaid bloggers seeking $105 million from AOL and Arianna Huffington's media empire. The bloggers argued that though they initially agreed to do the work for free, the Huffington Post was 'unjustly enriched as a result of this practice,' violating New York state law. Koeltel disagreed. 'There is no question that the plaintiffs submitted their materials to The Huffington Post with no expectation of monetary compensation and that they got what they paid for -- exposure in The Huffington Post,' Koeltel wrote."