theodp writes "If you're a COBOL programmer, you're apparently persona non grata in the eyes of the nation's Chief Information and Chief Technology Officers. Discussing new government technology initiatives at the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference, Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel quipped, 'I'm recruiting COBOL developers, any out there?,' sending Federal CTO Todd Park into fits of laughter (video). Lest anyone think he was serious about hiring the old fogies, VanRoekel added: 'Trust me, we still have it in the Federal government, which is quite, quite scary.' So what are VanRoekel and Park looking for? 'Bad a** innovators — the baddest a** of the bad a**es out there,' Park explained (video), 'to design, create, and kick a** for America.' Within 24 hours of VanRoekel's and Park's announcement, 600 people had applied to be Presidential Innovation Fellows."
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sethopia writes "In 2010, three people had the crazy idea to start a school where the teachers teach whatever they want and the students pay for classes with whatever teachers need — cutlery, art, advice — but never with money. Trade Schools have been popping up around the world and are now active in 15 cities and 10 countries, with almost no prodding from its founders. Caroline Woolard, one of the founders, discusses the challenges and opportunities of adapting their idea to an international audience and making the Trade School software — based on Python and Django — great."
Barence writes "Is it even possible to buy technology with a clean conscience? With the vast majority of gadgets and components manufactured using low-paid labor in Asia, manufacturers unable to accurately plot their supply chains, and very few ethical codes of conduct, the article highlights the difficulty of trying to buy ethically-sound gadgets. It concludes, 'The answer would appear to be no. Too little information is available, and nobody we spoke to believed an entirely ethical technology company exists – at least, not among the household names.'"
An anonymous reader writes "A fortnight ago the Bitcoin financial website Bitcoinica was hacked and the hacker stole $87,000 worth of Bitcoins. At the time the owner promised that all users would have their Bitcoins and US dollars returned in full, but one of the site developers has just confirmed that they have no database backups and are having difficulty figuring out what everyone's account balance should actually be. A failure of epic proportions for a site holding such large amounts of money."
New submitter wirelessduck writes "After some recent complaints from a Labor MP about price markups on software and technology devices in Australia, Federal Government agencies decided to look in to the matter and an official parliamentary inquiry into the issue was started. 'The Federal Parliament's inquiry into local price markups on technology goods and services has gotten under way, with the committee overseeing the initiative issuing its terms of reference and calling for submissions from the general public on the issue.'"
An anonymous reader writes "Dallas Mavericks owner and media entrepreneur Mark Cuban thinks he knows the reason for Facebook's disappointing IPO; smart money has realized that 'mobile is going to crush Facebook', as the world's population increasingly accesses the Internet mostly through smartphones and tablets. Cuban notes that the limited screen real estate hampers the branding and ad placement that Google and Facebook are accustomed to when serving to desktop browsers, while phone plans typically have strict data limits, so subscribers won't necessarily take kindly to YouTube or other video ads. Forbes' Eric Jackson likewise sees a generational shift to mobile that will produce a new set of winners at the expense of Facebook and Google."
Koreantoast writes "Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathaway recently purchased 63 newspapers and plans to purchase more over the next few years, noted during an interview that the current free content model is unsustainable and will likely continue pushing toward more electronic subscription models. This coincides with moves by other newspaper companies like Gannett and the New York Times, which are also erecting paywall systems. Buffett notes that newspapers focusing on local content will have a unique product, which would succeed even if they lose subscribers, because their services are irreplaceable. Is this the beginning of the end of 'free content' for local news?"
redletterdave writes "On Thursday, former Boston Red Sox pitcher and tech entrepreneur Curt Schilling fired his entire staff at 38 Studios, his Rhode Island-based video game company, leaving more than 300 employees without jobs because the company couldn't repay its debt to the state. 38 Studios failed to pay Rhode Island's economic development agency $1.1 million, which was due last week, and also failed to meet payroll for its staff in both its Providence office and its Maryland subsidiary, Big Huge Games." The company's recent action RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, sold 1.2 million copies — which would have been great if they hadn't needed to sell 3 million to break even. An article at Massively goes through some of the lessons the video game industry needs to learn from this situation.
silentbrad writes "An editorial published at CNN is titled 'The Demise of Guys: How Videogames and Porn are Ruining a Generation.' It makes the sensationalized case that not only do game addiction and porn addiction share similar characteristics, but they're also both damaging to young men, destroying their ability to connect with women, and therefore threatening the future of our entire species. A response by IGN dissects the idea that pornography and videogames are pretty much the same thing. 'The article, by psychologist Philip G. Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan argues that young men are "hooked on arousal, sacrificing their schoolwork and relationships in the pursuit of getting a tech-based buzz."' Zimbardo, has danced this jig before. At the Long Beach TED conference last year he told a delighted audience that "guys are wiping out socially with girls and sexually with women." He added that young men have been so zombiefied by games and porn that they are unable to function in basic human interactions. "It's a social awkwardness like a stranger in a foreign land", he said. "They don't know what to say. They don't know what to do."'"
An anonymous reader tips an article looking at the state of HDD pricing now that the market has had time to recover from the flooding in Thailand and a round of consolidation among manufacturers. Prices have certainly declined from the high they reached during the flooding, but they've stabilized a bit higher than they were beforehand. Quoting: "Are things going to change any time soon? We doubt it. WD and Seagate both reported record profits this past quarter. In Q1 2011, Western Digital reported net profit of $146M against sales of $2.3B while Seagate recorded $2.7B in revenue and $93 million in net income. That’s a net profit margin of 6% and 3%, respectively. For this past quarter, Western Digital reported sales of $3B (thanks in part to its acquisition of Hitachi) and a net income of $483 million, while Seagate hit $4.4B in revenue and $1.1B in profits. Net margin was 16% and 37% respectively. With profit margins like this, the hard drive manufacturers are going to be loath to cut prices. After years of barely making profits, the Thailand floods are the best excuse ever to drive record income for a few quarters. All of this means that while we expect prices to gradually decline, holding off on a necessary purchase doesn’t make much sense."
ananyo writes "The battle for the world's largest radio telescope has ended in a draw. As an earlier Slashdot story suggested, South Africa and Australia are to split the Square Kilometre Array, a €1.5 billion (US$1.9 billion) project made up of 3,000 15-meter-wide dishes and an even larger number of simple antennas. The decision was announced at a meeting outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, following a vote by SKA's international board."
Marian the Librarian writes "UCSF is among the first public institutions to adopt an open access policy, and is the largest scientific institution to have such a policy. The policy, voted unanimously by the faculty, will allow UCSF authors to put electronic versions of their published scientific articles on an open access repository making their research findings freely available to the public. Dr. Richard A. Schneider, who led the initiative, said, 'Our primary motivation is to make our research available to anyone who is interested in it, whether they are members of the general public or scientists without costly subscriptions to journals. The decision is a huge step forward in eliminating barriers to scientific research.'"
redletterdave writes "Six days after the company's IPO and two months after it acquired photo-sharing app company Instagram for $1 billion, Facebook debuted a photo app of its own on Thursday, called Facebook Camera. The app is now available as a free download in the App Store, and it's currently only available for iPhone and iPod Touch owners. Facebook Camera is set up very similarly to Instagram and includes most of the same features (including photo filters), but Dirk Stoop, Facebook's product manager for photos, said Facebook was working on this application long before the Instagram acquisition on April 9."
therealobsideus writes "Dish recently announced Auto Hop, giving its customers with the Hopper DVR the ability to 'hop' past commercial break on recordings. In response, Fox has filed suit against Dish in U.S. District Court, seeking to block the technology." The L.A. Times has coverage, too. Fox claims that giving viewers the ability to skip commercials on recorded television shows demonstrates the "clear goal of violating copyrights and destroying the fundamental underpinnings of the broadcast television ecosystem."