Earth

Heat Wave Kills More Than 1,100 In India 17

Posted by Soulskill
from the rest-in-peace dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that a week-long heat wave in India has resulted in the deaths of more than 1,100 people. Temperatures reached 47C (117F) on Monday and are expected to stay dangerously high throughout the week. The heat and extreme dryness are being accompanied by strong westerly winds. "About one-third of the country's 1.2 billion people have access to electricity, meaning millions are enduring the blistering heat without relief." The local power grid has been struggling under high demand from fans and air conditioning. In some states, citizens are being advised to stay indoors during the middle of the day, when the sun is at its peak. Many hope the upcoming monsoons will return temperatues to less dangerous levels.
Education

Clinton Foundation: Kids' Lack of CS Savvy Threatens the US Economy 66

Posted by Soulskill
from the money's-in-the-code dept.
theodp writes: As the press digs for details on Clinton Foundation donations, including a reported $26+ million from Microsoft and Bill Gates, it's probably worth noting the interest the Clintons have developed in computer science and the role they have played — and continue to play — in the national K-12 CS and tech immigration crisis that materialized after Microsoft proposed creating such a crisis to advance its 'two-pronged' National Talent Strategy, which aims to increase K-12 CS education and the number of H-1B visas. Next thing you know, Bill is the face of CS at the launch of Code.org. Then Hillary uses the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) conference to launch a Facebook, Microsoft, and Google initiative to boost the ranks of female and students of color in CS, and starts decrying woeful CS enrollment. Not to be left out, Chelsea keynotes the NCWIT Summit and launches Google's $50M girls-only Made With Code initiative with now-U.S. CTO Megan Smith. And last December, the Clinton Foundation touted its initiatives to engage middle school girls in CS, revamp the nation's AP CS program, and retrain out-of-work Americans as coders. At next month's CGI America 2015, the conference will kick off with a Beer Bust that CGI says "will also provide an opportunity to learn about Tech Girls Rock, a CGI Commitment to Action launched by CA Technologies in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America that helps girls discover an interest in tech-related educational opportunities and careers." On the following days, CGI sessions will discuss tech's need for a strong and diverse talent pipeline for computer and information technology jobs, which it says is threatened by "the persistent poor performance of American students in science, technology, engineering, and math," presenting "serious implications for the long-term competitiveness of the U.S. economy." So what's the long-term solution? Expanding CS education, of course!
Mandriva

Mandriva Goes Out of Business 128

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-tux dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After struggling for the past several years, Mandriva has finally gone out of business, and is in the process of being liquidated. The company was responsible for Mandriva Linux, itself a combination of Mandrake Linux and Conectiva Linux. When Mandriva fell upon hard times, many of the distro's developers migrated to Mageia Linux, which is still going strong and just putting the final touches on its next major version (5).
Security

IRS: Personal Info of 100,000 Taxpayers Accessed Illegally 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the disincentive-to-pay-your-taxes dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The Associated Press reports that an online service provided by the IRS was used to gather the personal information of more than 100,000 taxpayers. Criminals were able to scrape the "Get Transcript" system to acquire tax return information. They already had a significant amount of information about these taxpayers, though — the system required a security check that included knowledge of a person's social security number, date of birth, and filing status. The system has been shut down while the IRS investigates and implements better security, and they're notifying the taxpayers whose information was accessed.
Transportation

Amtrak Installing Cameras To Watch Train Engineers 254

Posted by Soulskill
from the call-it-amtraking dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In the aftermath of the derailment of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia a couple weeks ago, the company has caved to demands that it install video cameras to monitor and record the actions of the engineers driving their trains. The National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending such cameras for the past five years. Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman says the cameras will improve train safety, though the engineers' union disagrees. In 2013, the union's president said, "Installation of cameras will provide the public nothing more than a false sense of security. More than a century of research establishes that monitoring workers actually reduces the ability to perform complex tasks, such as operating a train, because of the distractive effect."
Open Source

Building Hospitable Open Source Communities (Video) 102

Posted by Roblimo
from the the-tirades-will-continue-until-morale-improves dept.
This is an 11 minute excerpt from an hour-long video, contributed by long-time Slashdot user Erik Möller. This video is the moving picture equivalent of the typical Slashdot summary of a text article, complete with a link to the main article, which in this case is a video (over an hour long) at PassionateVoices.org. Erik's interviewee, Sumana Harihareswara, is also a long-time Slashdot reader who claims (admits?) that she met her husband through a Slashdot link, albeit indirectly. She's spent most of the past decade working with open source, much of it as a community leader. If you are in a leadership role in an open source community or plan to lead one someday, you may want to listen to the complete interview. Sumana has many useful things to say about how open source communities should -- and shouldn't -- be run.
Education

Elon Musk Establishes a Grade School 222

Posted by Soulskill
from the recruiting-early-for-spacex dept.
HughPickens.com writes with news that Elon Musk has established "Ad Astra," a small, private school for grade-school-age kids. His goal for the school is to eliminate actual differences between the grades. The school had only 14 students for the past year, but will likely expand to 20 next September. Musk says, "It's important to teach problem solving, or teach to the problem and not the tools." As an example, he says teaching kids about tools should be more about taking an engine apart and learning about neccessary tools as the need arises, rather than just dumping information on them about a bunch of tools in an abstract way. "Musk's approach to delete grade level numbers and focus on aptitude may take the pressure off non-linear students and creates a more balanced assessment of ingenuity."
Businesses

Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable 154

Posted by timothy
from the shaky-nervous-laughter dept.
mpicpp writes with word that Charter Communications has struck a $56 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable; if the deal goes through (which the article says is likely, according to Macquarie Research analyst Amy Yong -- at least more likely than the recently scotched Comcast-Time Warner deal), it would mean that the second- and third-largest U.S. cable companies would share a letterhead, and more than 20 percent of the country's ISP market. From the linked Reuters article: The Federal Communications Commission immediately served notice that it would closely scrutinize the deal, focusing not only on absence of harm but benefits to the public. Charter, in which Malone-chaired Liberty Broadband Corp owns about 26 percent, is offering about $195.71 in cash-and-stock for each Time Warner Cable share, based on Charter's closing price on May 20. Including debt, the deal values Time Warner Cable at $78.7 billion. A key area of regulatory concern would be competition in broadband Internet.
United Kingdom

British Politicians Delete Negative Wikipedia Descriptions Before Election 116

Posted by timothy
from the war-on-the-ground dept.
EwanPalmer writes: The Wikipedia pages of dozens of UK politicians had references to sex scandals, fraud and opposition to same sex marriage removed in the run up to the UK general election. Dozens of MPs had negative aspects of their online biographies removed or altered prior to the election in a bid to make them more electable. The changes include several instances of MPs' expense claim scandals being removed, as well as details of arrests and the use of 'chauffeur-driven cars.' The edits were made using computers with IP addresses registered from inside Parliament.
Earth

Bats' White-Nose Syndrome May Be Cured 87

Posted by samzenpus
from the wipe-your-nose dept.
New submitter alabamatoy writes: Several news outlets are reporting that a common bacteria may be proving successful in curing "white-nose syndrome" which has been decimating the bat populations across North America. A new treatment using a common bacterium was developed in Missouri by Forest Service scientists Sybill Amelon and Dan Lindner, and Chris Cornelison of Georgia State University. The Nature Conservancy reports: "On May 20, 2015, Scientists and conservationists gathered outside the historic Mark Twain Cave Complex in Hannibal, Missouri, to release back into the wild some of the first bats successfully treated for deadly White-Nose Syndrome." Bats are a key player in the environment, keeping insect populations under control, especially mosquitoes.
United Kingdom

Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn 239

Posted by samzenpus
from the things-that-are-worth-fighting-for dept.
Mark Wilson writes: Before the UK elections earlier in the month, David Cameron spoke about his desire to clean up the internet. Pulling — as he is wont to do — on parental heartstrings, he suggested that access to porn on computers and mobiles should be blocked by default unless users specifically requested access to it. This opt-in system was mentioned again in the run-up to the election as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid assured peopled that the party "will age restrict online porn". But it's not quite that simple. There is the small problem of Europe. A leaked EU Council document shows that plans are afoot to stop Cameron's plans in its tracks — and with the UK on the verge of trying to debate a better deal for itself within Europe, the Prime Minister is not in a particularly strong position for negotiating on the issue. Cameron has a fight on his hands, it seems, if he wants to deliver on his promise that "we need to protect our children from hardcore pornography". Documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that the EU could make it illegal for ISPs and mobile companies to automatically block access to obscene material. Rather than implementing a default block on pornography, the Council of the European Union believes that users should opt in to web filtering and be able to opt out again at any time; this is precisely the opposite to the way Cameron would like things to work.
Earth

Galapagos Island Volcano Erupts After 33 Years, Threatening Fragile Ecosystem 185

Posted by samzenpus
from the when-the-volcano-blows dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Wolf volcano in the Galapagos islands has erupted for the first time in more than 30 years, sending lava flowing down its slopes and potentially threatening the world's only colony of pink iguanas. The Galapagos National Park says that currently there is no risk to tourism operations, but the Environment Ministry is notifying tourist operators to take precautions. A tourist boat passing by took an amazing picture of the eruption.
Programming

Google's Diversity Chief: Mamas Don't Let Their Baby Girls Grow Up To Be Coders 409

Posted by samzenpus
from the starts-at-home dept.
theodp writes: Explaining the reasons for its less-than-diverse tech workforce, Google fingered bad parenting for its lack of women techies. From the interview with Google Director of Diversity and Inclusion Nancy Lee: "Q. What explains the drop [since 1984] in women studying computer science? A. We commissioned original research that revealed it's primarily parents' encouragement, and perception and access. Parents don't see their young girls as wanting to pursue computer science and don't steer them in that direction. There's this perception that coding and computer science is ... a 'brogrammer' culture for boys, for games, for competition. There hasn't been enough emphasis on the power computing has in achieving social impact. That's what girls are interested in. They want to do things that matter." While scant on details, the Google study's charts appear to show that, overall, fathers encourage young women to study CS more than mothers. Google feels that reeducation is necessary. "Outreach programs," advises Google, "should include a parent education component, so that parents learn how to actively encourage their daughters."
Cellphones

Mozilla Drops $25 Smartphone Plans, Will Focus On Higher Quality Devices 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the disposing-of-disposable-technology dept.
An anonymous reader writes: When Mozilla developed Firefox OS, its goal was not to provide the best smartphone experience, but to provide a "good enough" smartphone experience for a very low price. Unfortunately, these cheap handsets failed to make a dent in the overall smartphone market, and the organization is now shifting its strategy to start producing a better experience for better devices. CEO Chris Beard said, "If you are going to try to play in that world, you need to offer something that is so valuable that people are willing to give up access to the broader ecosystem. In the mass market, that's basically impossible." Of course, when moving to the midrange smartphone market, or even the high end, there's still plenty of competition, so the new strategy may not work any better. However, they've hinted at plans to start supporting Android apps, which could help them play catch-up. Beard seems fixated on this new goal: "We won't allow ourselves to be distracted, and we won't expand to new segments until significant traction is demonstrated." He adds, "We will build products that feel like Mozilla."
News

D.C. Police Detonate Man's 'Suspicious' Pressure Cooker 438

Posted by Soulskill
from the dozens-more-suspected-at-local-department-store dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday evening in Washington D.C., police officers on routine patrol spotted an unoccupied car parked near the National Mall. They deemed it "suspicious," and took a look inside, where they found a pressure cooker. They also claimed to smell gasoline. The officers called the bomb squad, and at 7:45pm they initiated a controlled detonation of the car's contents. Afterward, a search of the car found no evidence that it contained explosives or any other hazardous materials. The car's owner was located and arrested for driving on a revoked license.
EU

EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the say-it-don't-spray-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The European Union recently published plans to ban 31 pesticides containing chemicals linked to testicular cancer and male infertility. Those potential regulations have now been dropped after a U.S. business delegation said they would adversely affect trade negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. "Just weeks before the regulations were dropped there had been a barrage of lobbying from big European firms such as Dupont, Bayer and BASF over EDCs. The chemical industry association Cefic warned that the endocrines issue 'could become an issue that impairs the forthcoming EU-US trade negotiations.'"
Firefox

Firefox's Optional Tracking Protection Reduces Load Time For News Sites By 44% 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the definition-of-a-win-win dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Former Mozilla software engineer Monica Chew and Computer Science researcher Georgios Kontaxis recently released a paper (PDF) that examines Firefox's optional Tracking Protection feature. The duo found that with Tracking Protection enabled, the Alexa top 200 news sites saw a 67.5 percent reduction in the number of HTTP cookies set. Furthermore, performance benefits included a 44 percent median reduction in page load time and 39 percent reduction in data usage.
Businesses

Tech Bubble? What Tech Bubble? 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the shiny-bubbles dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Conor Dougherty writes in the NYT that the tech industry's venture capitalists — the financiers who bet on companies when they are little more than an idea — are going out of their way to avoid the one word that could describe what is happening around them: Bubble. "I guess it is a scary word because in some sense no one wants it to stop," says Tomasz Tunguz. "And so if you utter it, do you pop it?" In 2000, tech stocks crashed, venture capital dried up and many young companies were vaporized. Today, people see shades of 2000 in the enormous valuations assigned to private companies like Uber, with a valuation of $41 billion, and Slack, the corporate messaging service that is about a year old and valued at $2.8 billion in its latest funding round. A few years ago private companies worth more than $1 billion were rare enough that venture capitalists called them "unicorns." Today, there are 107 unicorns and while nobody doubts that many of tech's unicorns are indeed real businesses, valuations are inflating, leading some people to worry that investment decisions are being guided by something venture capitalists call FOMO — the fear of missing out.

With interest rates at historic lows, excess capital causes investment bubbles. The result is too much money chasing too few great deals. Unfortunately, overcapitalizing startups with easy money results in superfluous spending and dangerously high burn rates and investors are happy to admit that this torrid pace of investment has started to worry them. "Do I think companies are overvalued as a whole? No," says Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator. "Do I think too much money can kill good companies? Yes. And that is an important difference."
EU

Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment 727

Posted by samzenpus
from the broker-than-broke dept.
jones_supa writes: Greece, the country which has been in extreme financial trouble and high debt for years, cannot make debt repayments to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) next month, unless it achieves a deal with creditors. 'The four installments for the IMF in June are €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion). This money will not be given and is not there to be given,' Interior Minister Nikos Voutsis told Greek Mega TV's weekend show. Shut out of bond markets and with bailout aid locked, cash-strapped Athens has been scraping state coffers to meet debt obligations and to pay wages and pensions. With its future as a member of the 19-nation eurozone potentially at stake, a second government minister accused its international lenders of subjecting it to slow and calculated torture.
News

Al-Qaeda's Job Application Form Revealed 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-a-job dept.
HughPickens.com writes: ABC News reports that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released a list of English-language material recovered during the raid the killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011 including one document dubbed "Instructions to Applicants," that would not be entirely out of place for an entry-level position at any American company – except for questions like the one about the applicant's willingness to blow themselves up. The questionnaire includes basic personal details, family history, marital status, and education level. It asks that applicants "answer the required information accurately and truthfully" and, "Please write clearly and legibly." Questions include: Is the applicant expert in chemistry, communications or any other field? Do they have a family member in the government who would cooperate with al Qaeda? Have they received any military training? Finally, it asks what the would-be jihadist would like to accomplish and, "Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?" For the final question, the application asks would-be killers that if they were to become martyrs, who should al Qaeda contact?

The corporate tone of the application is jarringly amusing, writes Amanda Taub, but it also hints at a larger truth: a terrorist organization like al-Qaeda is a large bureaucratic organization, albeit one in the "business" of mass-murdering innocent people. Jon Sopel, the North American editor from BBC News, joked that the application "looks like it has been written by someone who has spent too long working for Deloitte or Accenture, but bureaucracy exists in every walk of life – so why not on the path to violent jihad?"