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posted by n1 on Wednesday September 17, @12:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the was-not-paying-attention-to-begin-with dept.

A small study into electronic device usage during lectures found that there was minimal difference in scores between those who were distracted while listening to the lecture and those who weren't when there was a quiz afterwards.

Results. The sample was comprised of 26 students. Of these, 17 were distracted in some form (either checking email, sending email, checking Facebook, or sending texts). The overall mean score on the test was 9.85 (9.53 for distracted students and 10.44 for non-distracted students). There were no significant differences in test scores between distracted and non-distracted students (p = 0.652). Gender and types of distractions were not significantly associated with test scores (p > 0.05). All students believed that they understood all the important points from the lecture.

Conclusions. Every class member felt that they acquired the important learning points during the lecture. Those who were distracted by electronic devices during the lecture performed similarly to those who were not. However, results should be interpreted with caution as this study was a small quasi-experimental design and further research should examine the influence of different types of distraction on different types of learning.

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 16, @11:14PM   Printer-friendly
from the dead-tree-media-decay dept.

Julie Balise blogs at the San Francisco Gate:

Macworld executive editor Dan Miller tweeted on Wednesday that the magazine's print edition is "going away," but its website will continue with a "reduced editorial staff."

Miller said he will remain with the company for a month to help with the transition.

Jason Snell, editorial director for Macworld, also announced his departure via Twitter:

A personal announcement: I'm leaving Macworld after 17 years. http://t.co/gozwnjN0z5
--- Jason Snell (@jsnell) September 10, 2014

On his personal website, Snell wrote that his time with Macworld was "a great ride."

"Unfortunately, many of my colleagues lost their jobs today," he wrote. "If there's anything I can do to help them, I will. I have had time to plan for this day, but they haven't. You probably know some of them. Please join with me in giving them sympathy and support."

The San Francisco-based magazine was launched in 1984, the same year Apple introduced the Macintosh.

The cuts were part of a major reorganization at IDG Communications, according to Folio Magazine. A new U.S. Media group was created. The company did not tell Folio Magazine how many employees were let go.

The Boston Globe's report notes that November's will be the last dead-tree issue and that Boston-based International Data Group has previously gone through similar moves with their other properties, Computerworld and PCWorld.

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 16, @09:51PM   Printer-friendly
from the corporate-espionage-in-the-digital-age dept.

Samsung have accused LG employees of vandalising their washing machines ahead of an electronics show in Berlin. LG has said that the damage to two machines was inadvertent as the door had "weak hinges".

Samsung Electronics has accused the head of rival LG Electronics' home appliances business of damaging Samsung washing machines at retail stores in Germany and asked Seoul prosecutors to investigate.

Samsung, in a statement on Sunday, said it asked the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office to investigate LG employees who the company says were seen deliberately destroying several of its premium washing machines on display at two stores earlier this month ahead of the IFA electronics show in Berlin.

"It is very unfortunate that Samsung had to request that a high-ranking executive be investigated by the nation's legal authorities, but this was inevitable, as we concluded that we had to get to the bottom of this incident," Samsung said.

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 16, @08:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the plan-for-world-peace-to-follow dept.

Reuters reports that plans for a major rewriting of international tax rules have been unveiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that could eliminate structures that have allowed companies like Google and Amazon to shave billions of dollars off their tax bills. For more than 50 years, the OECD’s work on international taxation has been focused on ensuring companies are not taxed twice on the same profits hampering trade and limit global growth. But companies have been using such treaties to ensure profits are not taxed anywhere. A Reuters investigation last year found that three quarters of the 50 biggest U.S. technology companies channelled revenues from European sales into low tax jurisdictions like Ireland and Switzerland, rather than reporting them nationally. For example, search giant Google takes advantage of tax treaties to channel more than $8 billion in untaxed profits out of Europe and Asia each year and into a subsidiary that is tax resident in Bermuda, which has no income tax. “We are putting an end to double non-taxation,” says OECD head of tax Pascal Saint-Amans.

For the recommendations to actually become binding countries will have to encode them in their domestic laws or amend their bilateral tax treaties. The OECD says that it plans to hold an international conference on amending the network of existing tax treaties. Sol Picciotto, an emeritus professor at Lancaster University in Britain, says the recommendations are at least five to 10 years from becoming law, and that the jury is still out on whether they will accomplish their stated goals. “These are just tweaks,” says Picciotto. “They’re trying to repair an old motorcar, but what they need is a new engine.”

posted by n1 on Tuesday September 16, @06:57PM   Printer-friendly
from the why-wont-it-go-viral? dept.

An article recently published in Nature's Scientific Reviews describes a new method to reverse-engineer network growth processes. Some examples of application include the discovery of growth processes for a small brain, social networks and a protein interactions network.

The algorithm uses a technique inspired by natural selection to evolve theories on how networks grow.

Here's also a blog post about it from one of the authors.

posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday September 16, @05:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-could-possibly-go-wrong dept.

Phys.org reported on recent hoaxes where gamers seeking retaliation against an opponent make a fake emergency call to get a SWAT team sent over.

Authorities are increasingly concerned about a hoax in which video game players lash out at online opponents by making fake 911 calls that send SWAT teams to their homes.

The practice, known as "swatting," originally targeted celebrities. Experts say it's now becoming more popular with gamers seeking retaliation. It offers anonymity and a way to watch the hoax unfold live over game-streaming systems.

posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday September 16, @03:15PM   Printer-friendly
from the удачи-мой-друг dept.

NASA has released a media advisory today indicating that there will be a major announcement today at 16:00 EDT (20:00 UTC) about commercial crew transportation to the International Space Station. The graphic in their announcement includes the apparently new buzzphrase: "Launch America". The announcement will be made from Kennedy Space Center.

Commence wild speculation over CST-100, Dragon, etc.

[Update] The announcement: American Companies Selected to Return Astronaut Launches to American Soil

posted by janrinok on Tuesday September 16, @03:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the remaining-cynical dept.

It seems self-evident that moving from a lower-income country to a higher-income country can bring about enormous increases in a person’s income (e.g., multiplying it several-fold), dwarfing the effect of any sort of direct-aid intervention. But there are worries: Does letting more workers into a wealthy country take jobs from people already working there? Or does the competition for jobs reduce wages all around? These possibilities are a particular concern as they apply to low-skill workers, who are poorer.

David Roodman was hired to review of the evidence for potential side effects of immigration for the GiveWell charity research firm, a sort of "consumers reports" for charities.

Among his findings were:

  • There is almost no evidence of anything close to one-to-one crowding out by new immigrant arrivals to the job market in industrial countries. Most studies find that 10% growth in the immigrant “stock” changes natives’ earnings by between –2% and +2%. Although serious questions can be raised about the reliability of most studies, the scarcity of evidence for great pessimism stands as a fact. The economies of destination countries largely appear flexible enough to absorb new arrivals, especially given time.
  • The group that appears most vulnerable to competitive pressure from new low-skill migrants is recent low-skill migrants. This possibility is easy to miss when talking of the impacts of “immigrants” on “natives.” Yet it stands to reason: a newly arrived Mexican with less than a high school education competes most directly with an earlier-arrived Mexican with less than a high school education.
  • One factor dampening the economic side effects of immigration is that immigrants are consumers as well as producers. They increase domestic demand for goods and services, perhaps even more quickly than they increase domestic production (@Hercowitz and Yashiv 2002@), since they must consume as soon as they arrive. They expand the economic pie even as they compete for a slice. This is not to suggest that the market mechanism is perfect—adjustment to new arrivals is not instantaneous and may be incomplete—but the mechanism does operate.
  • A second dampener is that in industrial economies, the capital supply tends to expand along with the workforce. More workers leads to more offices and more factories. Were receiving economies not flexible in this way, they would not be rich. This mechanism too may not be complete or immediate, but it is substantial in the long run: since the industrial revolution, population has doubled many times in the US and other now-wealthy nations, and the capital stock has kept pace, so that today there is more capital per worker than 200 years ago.
  • A third dampener is that while workers who are similar compete, ones who are different complement. An expansion in the diligent manual labor available to the home renovation business can spur that industry to grow, which will increase its demand for other kinds of workers, from skilled general contractors who can manage complex projects for English-speaking clients to scientists who develop new materials for home building. Symmetrically, an influx of high-skill workers can increase demand for low-skill ones. More computer programmers means more tech businesses, which means more need for janitors and security guards. Again, the effect is certain, though its speed and size are not.

His findings indicate that more low-skill immigration would stimulate employment in the kind of high-skilled professions that suffer from the wage-depression effects of the H1B program.

posted by janrinok on Tuesday September 16, @01:27PM   Printer-friendly
from the better-late-than-never dept.

Has Redmond finally stopped fighting its users' wishes? Indications are that, in Windows 9, it will include multiple workspaces (which unix and unix-like OSes have offered for years).

SiliconANGLE reports

Leaked photos of the Windows Technical Preview are shedding light on what the next version of Windows will look like.

[...]

The Metro style Start screen has been replaced with a traditional Windows desktop, complete with the taskbar at the bottom with frequently used app shortcuts. One new element that wasn't in prior leaked screenshots is the search icon. It appears on the taskbar, next to the Start button.

On the right side of the search icon is, at long last, the Virtual Desktop icon. Virtual desktops, a feature that allows users to create, save, and easily switch between multiple desktop configurations, has been available in competing operating systems, like Ubuntu, for some time.

posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday September 16, @11:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the free-information dept.

WikiLeaks has released previously unseen copies of weaponised German surveillance malware used by intelligence agencies around the world to spy on journalists, political dissidents and others.

https://wikileaks.org/spyfiles4/index.html

FinFisher (formerly part of the UK based Gamma Group International until late 2013) is a German company that produces and sells computer intrusion systems, software exploits and remote monitoring systems that are capable of intercepting communications and data from OS X, Windows and Linux computers as well as Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Symbian and Windows Mobile devices. FinFisher first came to public attention in December 2011 when WikiLeaks published documents detailing their products and business in the first SpyFiles release.

Since the first SpyFiles release, researchers published reports that identified the presence of FinFisher products in countries aroud the world and documented its use against journalists, activists and political dissidents.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor in Chief said:

FinFisher continues to operate brazenly from Germany selling weaponised surveillance malware to some of the most abusive regimes in the world. The Merkel government pretends to be concerned about privacy, but its actions speak otherwise. Why does the Merkel government continue to protect FinFisher? This full data release will help the technical community build tools to protect people from FinFisher including by tracking down its command and control centers.

FinFisher Relay and FinSpy Proxy are the components of the FinFisher suite responsible for collecting the data acquired from the infected victims and delivering it to their controllers. It is commonly deployed by FinFisher's customers in strategic points around the world to route the collected data through an anonymizing chain, in order to disguise the identity of its operators and the real location of the final storage, which is instead operated by the FinSpy Master.

Archives:
http://web.archive.org/web/20140915073153/https://wikileaks.org/spyfiles4/index.html
https://archive.today/XRT0p

posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday September 16, @10:39AM   Printer-friendly
from the push-media dept.

Apple's latest press event was punctuated by a live appearance by U2 as well as an official announcement that Apple was giving away the band's latest album to over 500 million iTunes users. Apple called the mass giveaway "part of music history."

And it was, but maybe not in the way they intended. Apple's heavy-handed approach forced the album to download on every device of users who enable their purchases to download, whether they wanted it or not. And there was no easy way to NOT have the album on your device - many users found that even if they deleted the album, it would simply show back up again, unless they disabled all automatic syncing (even for albums they chose and purchased). Apple users were not impressed.

To the point where Apple has apparently admitted defeat, and offered an official tool to allow users to remove the unwanted album permanently from their iTunes library.

In other words, Apple mishandled a free giveaway of an album so badly that they actually had to create a special tool to allow people to decline to receive something they gave away for free (after Apple paid the band for the album). They could have generated more goodwill and generated less anger by making the album temporarily free in the iTunes store. But hey, how often can you make "music history?"

posted by martyb on Tuesday September 16, @08:58AM   Printer-friendly
from the mod-me-up! dept.

An article posted by Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing http://boingboing.net/2014/09/15/downvoting-considered-harmful.html has interesting insight into moderation:

A study http://cs.stanford.edu/people/jure/pubs/disqus-icwsm14.pdf [PDF] published in a journal of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence found that sites that have a "downvote" button to punish bad comments lock the downvoted users into spirals of ever-more-prolific, ever-lower-quality posting due to a perception of having been martyred by the downvoters.

Cory continues: What's more, positive attention for writing good posts acts as less of an incentive to write more good stuff than the incentive to write bad stuff that's produced by negative attention.

How Community Feedback Shapes User Behavior http://cs.stanford.edu/people/jure/pubs/disqus-icwsm14.pdf [Justin Cheng, Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, Jure Leskovec]

Why Reddit sucks: some scientific evidence http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/09/09/why-reddit-sucks-some-scientific-evidence/ [Henry Farrell/Washington Post]

So... do you downvote? if so, why? Does this article make you reconsider your down-modding?

[Editor's note: I offer for your consideration and commentary our very own SoylentNews Moderation FAQ.]

posted by martyb on Tuesday September 16, @07:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the preparing-for-talk-like-a-pirate-day? dept.

In The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind Professor of Law James Boyle writes about the history of copyright, patent and trademark laws, and their application. What is the public domain? What are orphan works? Why should somebody own an idea? Boyle makes the case for result-based evaluation of how well the current laws serve us and (re)introduces his idea of information environmentalism.

I think the book makes fascinating reading and since all our contemporary culture and technology is governed by these rules, we should know them and understand how they came to be.

The book is available for download under the CC BY-NC-SA license.

“In this beautifully written and subtly argued book, Boyle has succeeded in resetting that framework, and beginning the work in the next stage of this field. The Public Domain is absolutely crucial to understanding where the debate has been, and where it will go. And Boyle’s work continues to be at the center of that debate.” — Lawrence Lessig.

What say you Soylents? Do you think copyright protection lasts too long? Do you have a problem with patents? Download this book and weigh in for an informed discussion.

posted by martyb on Tuesday September 16, @05:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the do-they-still-make-that-neeeeeyung-sound? dept.

The FIA's new motor racing championship, built around electric cars and city street racing, Formula E held its first race on Saturday the 13th in Beijing, and Lucas di Grassi won after a spectacular crash at the last corner.

Although I'm not a big fan of most motor sports, there is a lot of fascinating technology behind the cars. All the teams are currently in the €350,000 Spark-Renault SRT_01E model car from Spark Racing Technology which is capable of a top speed of about 140 mph (225kph) and 0-60 mph in 3s.

There's an official Youtube channel with quite a bit of background and highlights clips as well as a video from di Grassi with a drivers-eye view of the technical aspects of the power management and regeneration system

The early reception seems to be generally positive although some aspects have been criticised, particularly the "Fanboost", where an online vote awards three drivers an extra 5 second power boost during the race.

So is Formula-E racing a gimmick, is it Formula 1 greenwashing, or is there some future for this sport and will the trickle-down-technology theory of motorsport proponents mean innovations here will end up in consumer cars?

posted by martyb on Tuesday September 16, @03:55AM   Printer-friendly
from the throw-away-your-makeup-and-forget-that-diet dept.

Darren Pauli at El Reg reports

Chinese researchers have developed a facial recognition system that can pick faces from a crowd with 99.8 percent accuracy from 91 angles. The platform can distinguish between identical twins, unravel layers of makeup and still identify an individual if they've packed on or shed kilos.

Researcher Zhou Xi of the Chinese Academy of Science told local reporters [Google translation] the system would be built into a [mobile] app next year.

"The facial recognition system is not only accurate but also quick to recognise," Xi said.

The platform which is limited use (sic) in China topped Carnegie Mellon University's global standards beating the previous accuracy record of 97.6 percent.

It was trained against a database sporting 50 million Chinese faces compiled with help from the University of Illinois and the National University of Singapore.

The biometrics system comes as Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced facial recognition Smart Gates would be installed at departure areas within the nation's airports.

The systems already in place at arrival points work by matching Aussie or Kiwi passports against a stored photo and dramatically cut down on Customs wait times, much to this correspondent's delight.

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