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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Caps Lock Key Still So Prominent On Keyboards?

Slashdot - July 29, 2015 - 9:18am
Esther Schindler writes: The developers at .io are into tracking things, I guess. In any case, a few weeks back they decided to track team performance in terms of keyboard and mouse activity during the working day. They installed a simple Chrome plugin on every Macbook and collected some statistics. For instance, developers have fewer keypresses than editors and managers—around 4k every day. Managers type more than 23k characters per day. And so on. Some pretty neat statistics. But the piece that jumped out at me was this: "What's curious—the least popular keys are Capslock and Right Mouse Button. Somewhere around 0.1% of all keypresses together. It's time to make some changes to keyboards." I've been whining about this for years. Why is it that the least-used key on my keyboard is not just in a prominent position, but also bigger than most other keys? I can I invest in a real alternate keyboard with a different layout (my husband's a big fan of the Kinesis keyboards, initially to cope with carpal tunnel). But surely it's time to re-visit the standard key layout? What keys would you eliminate or re-arrange?

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Airplane debris found in Indian Ocean

CNN News Video - July 29, 2015 - 8:49am
Airplane debris has been found near Madagascar, but it's too early to tell if it belongs to MH370, according to investigators.
Categories: Video Feeds

Egyptian Young Men, Boys Smuggled To Europe

CNN News Video - July 29, 2015 - 8:49am
Amr Taha, Egypt Country Coordinator for the IOM, talks to Becky Anderson.
Categories: Video Feeds

Chaka Fattah indicted on racketeering charges

CNN News Video - July 29, 2015 - 8:41am
Rep. Chaka Fattah was indicted on racketeering charges tied to a host of campaign finance schemes, according to the Department of Justice.
Categories: Video Feeds

Sprked Tries To Solve Valve's Paid Mods Scandal

Slashdot - July 29, 2015 - 8:36am
SlappingOysters writes: This article takes a closer look at the emerging crowdfunding platform Sprked, which aims to follow the Patreon support model, but exclusively for video game modders. The service is currently in its early stages, but by crafting a system of appreciation and support that acknowledges the loyalty of the modding community, Sprked has the potential to promote and foster the creativity that is so integral to modding, instead of hampering it with the murky baggage of a mandatory economy. Valve's attempt to let modders make some money for their efforts backfired within the community — there are four demons the paid mods plan must slay to actually work.

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Maliciously Crafted MKV Video Files Can Be Used To Crash Android Phones

Slashdot - July 29, 2015 - 7:55am
itwbennett writes: Just days after publication of a flaw in Android's Stagefright, which could allow attackers to compromise devices with a simple MMS message, researchers have found another Android media processing flaw. The latest vulnerability is located in Android's mediaserver component, more specifically in how the service handles files that use the Matroska video container (MKV), Trend Micro researchers said. "When the process opens a malformed MKV file, the service may crash (and with it, the rest of the operating system). The vulnerability is caused by an integer overflow when the mediaserver service parses an MKV file. It reads memory out of buffer or writes data to NULL address when parsing audio data."

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Kentucky Man Arrested After Shooting Down Drone

Slashdot - July 29, 2015 - 7:12am
McGruber writes: Hillview, Kentucky resident William H. Merideth describes his weekend: "Sunday afternoon, the kids – my girls – were out on the back deck, and the neighbors were out in their yard. And they come in and said, 'Dad, there's a drone out here, flying over everybody's yard.'" Merideth's neighbors saw it too. "It was just hovering above our house and it stayed for a few moments and then she finally waved and it took off," said neighbor Kim VanMeter. Merideth grabbed his shotgun and waited to see if the drone crossed over his property. When it did, he took aim and shot it out of the sky. The owners showed up shortly, and the police right after. He was arrested and charged with first degree criminal mischief and first degree wanton endangerment before being released the next day. Merideth says he will pursue legal action against the drone's owner, "He didn't just fly over. If he had been moving and just kept moving, that would have been one thing -- but when he come directly over our heads, and just hovered there, I felt like I had the right. You know, when you're in your own property, within a six-foot privacy fence, you have the expectation of privacy. We don't know if he was looking at the girls. We don't know if he was looking for something to steal. To me, it was the same as trespassing."

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Hacking a 'Smart' Sniper Rifle

Slashdot - July 29, 2015 - 6:30am
An anonymous reader writes: It was inevitable: as soon as we heard about computer-aimed rifles, we knew somebody would find a way to compromise their security. At the upcoming Black Hat security conference, researchers Runa Sandvik and Michael Auger will present their techniques for doing just that. "Their tricks can change variables in the scope's calculations that make the rifle inexplicably miss its target, permanently disable the scope's computer, or even prevent the gun from firing." In one demonstration they were able to tweak the rifle's ballistic calculations by making it think a piece of ammunition weighed 72 lbs instead of 0.4 ounces. After changing this value, the gun tried to automatically adjust for the weight, and shot significantly to the left. Fortunately, they couldn't find a way to make the gun fire without physically pulling the trigger.

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State law takes aim at cyberbullying

eSchoolNews - July 28, 2015 - 10:00pm
Pennsylvania law comes with $2,500 fine and possible jail time for offenders

cyberbullying-lawThe face of a bully has changed over the years.

Technology has come to replace the glaring student who pushes others down on the playground or the mean girl who uses word-of-mouth to spread her gossip.

Smartphones and social media have opened an entirely new door for classroom bullies, who are no longer limited to the classroom.

“A lot of these social media issues are occurring when students are not at school,” said Southeastern School District Superintendent Rona Kaufmann. “And often times what happens through social media comes into the school in one way, shape or form, just because of the sheer amount of people who have access to it.”

Taking action: Northern York School District recently implemented rules for online behavior — for students, athletes and staff — to combat cyberbullying.

Superintendent Eric Eshbach echoed Kaufmann’s concerns about cyberbullying.

“It is a daily effort because a large majority of it doesn’t go on in the school building; it goes on after school hours,” he said. “We are definitely having conversations and encouraging students to report on any issues.”

Those reports could end up being a criminal matter under a new state law, Act 26, which Gov. Tom Wolf signed on July 10 and which takes effect in September.

Next page: What the new law means

Flocabulary debuts student assessments, reporting tools

eSchoolNews - July 28, 2015 - 10:00pm
New tools aim to help teachers use student assessments to target individual learning needs

assessments-studentsFlocabulary, which offers online videos and activities intended to boost achievement, has launched a new suite of features to help teachers, schools and districts assess student knowledge and diagnose needs for differentiation and intervention.

In addition to the educational hip-hop videos and interactive activities, each instructional unit now features an auto-graded formative assessment for students. Updated features include a new dashboard for teachers to assign units and analyze student results to inform their instruction.

“Our goal with these new features is to allow our customers to use the platform to not only demonstrate student achievement but also to diagnose knowledge gaps and differentiate instruction,” said Flocabulary co-founder and CEO Alex Rappaport.

Next page: More on the program’s new features and tools

How to prepare your school for the Internet of Things onslaught

eSchoolNews - July 28, 2015 - 10:00pm
Follow this checklist as everything from watches to thermostats goes online

internet-thingsTech-savvy higher education IT executives may be on top of many of the changes looming in technology, but the Internet of Things (IoT) is not yet one of them. They are fully aware it is coming, but as of now, the IoT is not yet a major focus. Given the wide-ranging security, bandwidth, legal and business implications involved, this may be a mistake.

The Internet of Things basically refers to any so-called “smart” object that uses an internet connection to enhance functionality. Today there are watches, forks, thermostats, and any number of other related devices that students or school campuses may be bringing to a network near you.

Planning for this next evolution of networking needs to simultaneously be defensive (ensuring that IT infrastructure is ready) and offensive (encouraging and leading groups outside of the IT department such as teachers and students to take full advantage of the promise of the IoT.)

According to Gartner, we’ve entered the “Wild West” era in IoT adoption. With that in mind, here is a quick checklist for preparing your school or district.

Next page: Control the network and set your policy

New high school focuses on leadership and career readiness

eSchoolNews - July 28, 2015 - 10:00pm
Graduation achievement and community leadership drive new Michigan initiative

leadership-academyMichigan students looking for flexible learning opportunities will soon be able to earn their high school diploma online while developing into agents of change in their local communities.

Through diverse community and business partnerships, the Heroic Leadership Academy in Flint, Mich., will combine comprehensive supports in education and leadership training for at-risk students.

The academy, which will open with the 2015-16 school year, is designed to help students ages 15-19 harness their existing qualities and become “heroic leaders,” according to a press release on the school.

Next page: How the academy will focus on instilling leadership skills in students

Texas districts enlist Skyward for data integration

eSchoolNews - July 28, 2015 - 10:00pm
Implementation aims to help districts streamline data and management processes

data-integrationTwo Texas institutions, Mesquite Independent School District and Village Tech Schools, have enlisted Skyward, a K-12 school administrative software provider, to unify school management and data processes.

Both districts identified customer service as the primary factor in selecting Skyward, along with student data security, parent engagement and ease-of-use for teachers.

A large suburban school district located just east of Dallas, Mesquite ISD selected the Student Management Suite from Skyward to answer its data integration needs. Mesquite ISD searched for a management system that stressed data accuracy and security for its 40,000 students, while also providing a user-friendly platform with cost-cutting data storage capabilities.

Village Tech Schools, an open-enrollment charter school in its third year, selected the Skyward Student Management and School Business Suites. Skyward will partner with the school to streamline digital scheduling, as students are allowed to move freely between classes. Village Tech Schools is looking forward to Family Access for parent communication, Gradebook to simplify the grading process and the Business Suite to manage operations.

“We need a solution that meets our short-term and long-term needs,” said Jeremy Jameson, chief technology officer at Village Tech Schools. “Skyward brings everything under one roof; it’s a one-stop shop for grading, scheduling, communicating with parents and managing business operations such as payroll and inventory. Having the option to bring the student and business systems together will help our district move forward, so we don’t have to constantly keep cross-referencing data.”

Mesquite ISD will implement the Skyward Student Management Suite in fall of 2016, while Village Tech Schools implemented the Student Management Suite last spring and is currently implementing the School Business Suite.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

New law helps fight tech-based bullying

eSchoolNews - July 27, 2015 - 10:00pm
As cyberbullying increases, new laws and measures are helping combat tech-based bullying

bullying-cyberThe face of a bully and the definition of bullying have changed over the years.

Technology has come to replace the glaring student who pushes others down on the playground or the mean girl who uses word-of-mouth to spread her gossip.

Smartphones and social media have opened an entirely new door for classroom bullies, who are no longer limited to the classroom.

“A lot of these social media issues are occurring when students are not at school,” said Southeastern School District (Pa.) Superintendent Rona Kaufmann. “And often times what happens through social media comes into the school in one way, shape or form, just because of the sheer amount of people who have access to it.”

Next page: What one school district is doing to combat cyberbullying

Want to foster rich academic discussions? Try a student #Edcamp

eSchoolNews - July 27, 2015 - 10:00pm
An innovative professional development model comes to the classroom

edcamp-studentsEdcamp “unconferences” have shattered the traditional model for professional development, and they’re catching on as a way for educators to share their ideas and expertise in an informal, collegial way.

Now, some forward-thinking educators are adapting the Edcamp model for their students, as a way to spark richer conversations.

Edcamps are professional development gatherings without a predetermined set of topics or presenters; instead, participants volunteer to lead conversations and hands-on workshops among their peers. Content for these sessions is determined organically, during a common schedule-building time at the outset—and participants are free to float among sessions as their interests dictate.

Because the topics are participant-driven, this free-form arrangement often results in lively, passionate discussions among educators, said Jason Seliskar, a fourth grade teacher for the Covina-Valley Unified School District in California. In other words, the kinds of discussions that educators yearn to hear from their students.

“I thought: What would this look like if I tried it with my students?” said Seliskar, who is transitioning into a new role as a district technology coach this fall.

Next page: How it works with students

4 apps that make writing with an iPad possible

eSchoolNews - July 26, 2015 - 10:00pm
Who says students can’t write with an iPad?

ipad-writingTablets are a fantastic tool for media creation. But when it comes to more traditional needs, like writing, laptop or desktop computers are still the way to go (or so the conventional wisdom says).

But as it turns out, tablets are extremely versatile tools for supporting writing instruction in the classroom, for everyone from our littlest learners to high schoolers and beyond. Why use tablets for student writing? Research indicates that using digital tools in teaching student writing encourages students to be more invested in their writing, facilitates collaboration, encourages creativity and personal expression, and allows students to share their work with a wider and more varied audience.

Read on to learn about a few of my favorite apps to support the prewriting process and enable your students to create dazzling digital books.

Kidspiration Maps Want to add some pizzazz to your writing unit? Try Kidspiration Maps, which lets students create thinking maps with text and images to capture their ideas. Kidspiration’s vast library of more than 3,000 symbols helps children plan and organize their stories using pictures to complement their words. Not only are the diagrams visually appealing and fun to create, but they also help students organize their writing and generate ideas. In addition, Kidspiration Maps has the added benefit of converting a student’s work from graphic to outline format at the tap of a button. After organizing their ideas in pictorial format, students can expand their ideas and switch to writing sentences in writing view.

Next page: Brainstorming, storytelling, and book making

The $300 tabletop 3D printer currently captivating the world

eSchoolNews - July 26, 2015 - 10:00pm
Lightweight device far exceeds crowdfunding goal

Freaks3d-printerA startup in China has already raised more than five times its crowdfunding goal for a tabletop 3D printer, currently starting at $300.

The printer, called Freaks3D, bills itself as the world’s first portable 3D printer. In the 13 days since its Indiegogo campaign started, it has already raised nearly $110,000. A video on the printer notes that it weighs about six pounds when fully assembled thanks to an aluminum frame. (The printer comes in a kit, which users need to put together themselves).

It also boasts that users do not need to preheat filament beforehand, only place the filament in the printer’s entrance path, and that it runs so quietly “it can also be used in a library without anyone complaining about it,” according to a related press release.

The $300 donation level includes the 3D printer kit, step-by-step instructions, and software. For $100 more, the printer comes fully assembled. It plans to begin shipping in August.

Think Through Math adds geometry to interactive math system

eSchoolNews - July 26, 2015 - 10:00pm
New offering will combine live tutoring and adaptive math instruction

geometry-toolThink Through Learning, creators of Think Through Math (TTM), an instructional system for grades 3 and above, announced plans to expand its high school software line to include geometry.

Built from the ground up to align to each state’s standards as well as the Common Core, TTM Geometry combines live tutoring from state-certified U.S. math teachers, adaptive instruction and a motivation system that work together to support students to master geometry.

Think Through Math’s teachers tutor students through a two-way interactive whiteboard. TTM Geometry then builds and strengthens conceptual understanding by having students explore math relationships using multiple kinds of visual representations.

To further insure sustainable learning gains, TTM Geometry includes a wide variety of interactive item types; ensuring students are well prepared for the more sophisticated test items being used on state-level assessments.

“As with all TTM lessons, which are designed to emphasize the progressive and interrelated nature of math concepts, TTM Geometry builds on prior knowledge. By incorporating algebraic reasoning, theories and formulas throughout, students can master the big picture of conceptual math relationships, rather than simply practice a series of discrete lessons,” said Sara Byrne, Director of Content at Think Through Math.

Available to students from school and home, Think Through Math’s adaptive learning technology addresses the unique learning needs of every student including English Language Learners (ELL) and those with advanced math aptitude and learning disabilities. TTM lessons and on-line tutoring are both available in both English and Spanish.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

UrtheCast Releases Its First Commercial Videos of Earth

Slashdot - June 17, 2015 - 2:58pm
schwit1 writes: UrtheCast has released high resolution videos of three Earth cities taken from its camera on ISS. Take a look. The cameras are quite successful in capturing the motion of vehicles on highways and road, which is amazing considering the vibrations that ISS experiences merely from astronaut movements. Quartz reports: "The company plans to offer the imagery in several tiers, from a free video feed on its website to an API that will allow customers, including corporations, governments and individuals, to purchase imagery data from its database or make real-time requests for a look at a given spot on the earth. The cameras scan the ground under the ISS, which tracks the earth between about 51 degrees north and south latitude."

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FCC To Fine AT&T $100M For Throttling Unlimited Data Customers

Slashdot - June 17, 2015 - 2:13pm
New submitter Wargames writes: According to the article in the New York Times, AT&T is getting fined $100,000,000 for its doublespeak redefinition of the word "Unlimited". The FCC says AT&T failed to adequately notify its customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised and that these actions violated the FCC's 2010 Open Internet Order. “Unlimited means unlimited,” Travis LeBlanc, the F.C.C.’s chief of the enforcement bureau, said in a statement on Wednesday. “As today’s action demonstrates, the commission is committed to holding accountable those broadband providers who fail to be fully transparent about data limits.”

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