For the out-of-band Slashdot experience (mostly headlines), follow us on Twitter, or Facebook. ×
Education

AP CS Test Takers and Pass Rates Up, Half of Kids Don't Get Sparse Arrays At All 123 123

Posted by timothy
from the kids-these-days dept.
theodp writes: Each June, the College Board tweets out teasers of the fuller breakouts of its Advanced Placement (AP) test results, which aren't made available until the fall. So, here's a roundup of this year's AP Computer Science tweetstorm: 1. "Wow — massive gains in AP Computer Science participation (25% growth) AND scores this year; big increase in % of students earning 4s & 5s!" 2. "2015 AP Computer Science scores: 5: 24.4%; 4: 24.6%; 3: 15.3%; 2: 7.1%; 1: 28.6%." [3 or above is passing] 3."Count them: a whopping 66 AP Computer Science students out of 50,000 worldwide earned all 80 pts possible on this year's exam." 4. "Remember that AP exam standards are equated from year to year, so when scores go up, it's a direct indication of increased student mastery." 5. "Many AP Computer Science students did very well on Q1 (2D array processing–diverse array); >20% earned all 9/9 pts" [2015 AP CS A Free-Response Questions] 6. "The major gap in this year's AP Computer Sci classrooms seems to be array list processing; Q3 (sparse array): 47% of students got 0/9 pts."
ISS

A Failure For SpaceX: Falcon 9 Explodes During Ascension 297 297

Posted by timothy
from the harsh-news dept.
MouseR writes with bad news about this morning's SpaceX launch: About 2:19 into its flight, Falcon 9 exploded along stage 2 and the Dragon capsule, before even the stage 1 separation. Telemetry and videos are inconclusive, without further analysis as to what went wrong. Everything was green lights. This is a catastrophe for SpaceX, which enjoyed, until now, a perfect launch record. TechCrunch has coverage of the failure, which of course also means that today's planned stage one return attempt has failed before it could start; watch this space for more links. Update: 06/28 15:06 GMT by T : See also stories at NBC News, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press (via ABC News). According to the Washington Post, what was a catastrophe for this morning's launch is only a setback for the ISS and its crew, rather than a disaster: A NASA slide from an April presentation said that with current food levels, the space station would reach what NASA calls “reserve level” on July 24 and run out by Sept. 5, according to SpaceNews. [NASA spokeswoman Stephanie] Schierholz said, however, that the supplies would last until the fall, although she could not provide a precise date. Even if something were to go wrong with the SpaceX flight, she said, there are eight more scheduled this year, including several this summer, “so there are plenty of ways to ensure the station continues to be well-supplied.” Of note: One bit of cargo that was aboard the SpaceX craft was a Microsoft Hololens; hopefully another will make it onto one of the upcoming supply runs instead.

Elon Musk has posted a note on the company's Twitter channel: "Falcon 9 experienced a problem shortly before first stage shutdown. Will provide more info as soon as we review the data."
Social Networks

Are We Too Quick To Act On Social Media Outrage? 367 367

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-stopped-beating-your-lab-assistants? dept.
RedK writes: Connie St-Louis, on June 8th, reported on apparently sexist remarks made by Sir Tim Hunt, a Nobel prize winning scientist, during an event organised for women in sciences. This led to the man's dismissal from his stations, all in such urgency that he did not even have time to present his side, nor was his side ever offered any weight. A leaked report a few days later suggests that the remarks were taken out of context. Further digging shows that the accuser has distorted the truth in many cases it seems. This is not the first time that people may have jumped the gun too soon on petty issues and ruined great events or careers.
Security

Security Researcher Drops 15 Vulnerabilities for Windows and Adobe Reader 117 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
mask.of.sanity writes: Google Project Zero hacker Mateusz Jurczyk has dropped 15 remote code execution vulnerabilities, including a single devastating hack against Adobe Reader and Windows he reckons beats all exploit defenses. He said, "The extremely powerful primitive provided by the vulnerability, together with the fact that it affected all supported versions of both Adobe Reader and Microsoft Windows (32-bit) – thus making it possible to create an exploit chain leading to a full system compromise with just a single bug – makes it one of the most interesting security issues I have discovered so far." Jurczyk published a video demonstration of the exploit for 32-bit and 64-bit systems. His slides are here [PDF].
Government

Mayday PAC's Benjamin Singer Explains How You can Help Reform American Politics (Video) 232 232

Posted by Roblimo
from the if-it's-our-government-why-doesn't-it-do-what-we-want-it-to-do? dept.
Larry Lessig's Mayday PAC is a SuperPac that is working to eliminate the inherent corruption of having a government run almost entirely by people who manage to raise -- or have their "non-connected" SuperPACs raise -- most of the money they need to run their campaigns. The Mayday PAC isn't about right or left wing or partisan politics at all. It's about finding and supporting candidates who are in favor of something like last year's Government by the People Act. As we noted in our Mayday Pac interview with Larry Lessig last June, a whole panoply of tech luminaries, up to and including Steve Wozniak, are in favor of Mayday PAC.

This interview is being posted, appropriately, just before the 4th of July, but it's also just one day before the Mayday PAC Day of Action to Reform Congress. They're big on calling members of Congress rather than emailing, because our representatives get email by the (digital) bushel, while they get comparatively few issue-oriented phone calls from citizens. So Mayday PAC makes it easy for you to call your Congressional representatives and even, if you're too shy to talk to a legislative aide in person, to record a message Mayday PAC will leave for them after hours.

The five specific pieces of legislation Mayday PAC currently supports are listed at the RepsWith.US/reforms page. Two are sponsored by Republicans, two by Democrats, and one by an Independent. That's about as non-partisan as you can get, so no matter what kind of political beliefs you hold, you can support Mayday PAC with a clear conscience. (Note: the transcript has more information than the video, which is less than six minutes long.)
Music

Apple To Pay Musicians For Free Streams, After All 134 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the apple-swiftly-takes-cue dept.
vivaoporto writes: As reported on Re/code, Apple media boss Eddy Cue appears to have capitulated and Apple Music will be paying music owners for streaming even during customers's free trial period. He says Taylor Swift's letter, coupled with complaints from indie labels and artists, did indeed prompt the change.

Cue says Apple will pay rights holders for the entire three months of the trial period. He explains that it can't be at the same rate that Apple is paying them after free users become subscribers, since Apple is paying out a percentage of revenues once subscribers start paying. Instead, he says, Apple will pay rights holders on a per-stream basis.

No word from Swift or her camp about whether Apple's move is enough to get her to put "1989," her newest album, on Apple Music. On Twitter, she says, "I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us."
Twitter

Twitter To Introduce Curated Information Stream 37 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-don't-care-what-you-had-for-breakfast dept.
stephendavion writes: Twitter will start curating tweets on live events, the microblogging service said, as it plans major changes to make its real-time news feed more user friendly. Dubbed Project Lightning, the changes will let users follow events instead of just people, and instantly upload photos and videos that can be shared across websites, social news and entertainment website Buzzfeed reported on Thursday. Another reader points out coverage at Wired, which argues that this is a bigger change for Twitter than it sounds: "What Project Lightning represents, more than anything, is the long-overdue death of the Twitter timeline. (Or its demotion, at the very least, in the hope it’ll quietly resign.) With this change, Twitter doesn’t have to look like an endlessly flowing, context-free stream of tweets; instead, you can see a hand-curated set of tweets, links, images, and videos related to what’s happening right now. ... In short, this effort puts a stake through the idea that Twitter is a social network. It’s not. It never should have tried to be. It’s not about people, jokes, and #brands. It’s about information, about news and pictures and stories."
Programming

ECMAScript 6 Is Officially a JavaScript Standard 80 80

Posted by timothy
from the very-long-initiation-process dept.
rjmarvin writes: The ECMAScript 6 specification is now a standard. ES6 is the first major revision to the programming language since 1999 and its hallmark features include a revamped syntax featuring classes and modules. The Ecma General Assembly officially approved the specification at its June meeting in France, ECMAScript project editor Allen Wirfs-Brock announced.
Social Networks

US Teen Pleads Guilty To Teaching ISIS About Bitcoin Via Twitter 312 312

Posted by timothy
from the don't-ever-edit-wikipedia dept.
jfruh writes: Ali Shukri Amin, a 17-year-old from Virginia, has pleaded guilty to charges that he aided ISIS by giving the group advice about using bitcoin. An odd and potentially troubling aspect of the charges is that this all took place in public — he Tweeted out links to an article on his blog about how bitcoin and Darknet could help jihadi groups, making it difficult to say whether he was publishing information protected under free speech or was directly advising the terrorist organization. Free speech qua speech isn't the only relevant charge, though: Amin "also admitted facilitating the travel of another teenager, 18-year-old Reza Niknejad, to Syria to join IS. Amin faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison if convicted."
Communications

Online At Last: Comet Lander Philae Wakes Up 62 62

Posted by timothy
from the from-a-long-winter's-nap dept.
techtech writes with this news from the BBC: The European Space Agency (ESA) says its comet lander, Philae, has woken up and contacted Earth. Philae, the first spacecraft to land on a comet, was dropped on to the surface of Comet 67P by its mothership, Rosetta, last November. It worked for 60 hours before its solar-powered battery ran flat. The comet has since moved nearer to the sun and Philae has enough power to work again, says the BBC's science correspondent Jonathan Amos. An account linked to the probe tweeted the message, "Hello Earth! Can you hear me?" Watch this space for some more links to follow. Update: 06/14 13:39 GMT by T : From the ESA's Rosetta blog: When analysing the status data it became clear that Philae also must have been awake earlier: "We have also received historical data - so far, however, the lander had not been able to contact us earlier," [according to project manager Dr. Stephan Ulamec.] Now the scientists are waiting for the next contact. There are still more than 8000 data packets in Philae’s mass memory which will give the DLR team information on what happened to the lander in the past few days on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
United States

US Army Website Hacked By Syrian Electronic Army 116 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the change-your-password dept.
swinferno writes: On Monday afternoon, the Syrian Electronic Army claimed on Twitter to have successfully hacked the website of the United States Army, army.mil. Various screenshots that appeared on Twitter reportedly showed pro-Assad propaganda on the site before it crashed. "Today an element of the Army.mil service provider's content was compromised. After this came to our attention, the Army took appropriate preventive measures to ensure there was no breach of Army data by taking down the website temporarily," spokesman Brig. Gen. Malcom B. Frost said in a statement.
Businesses

You'll Totally Believe Why These Startups Failed 151 151

Posted by samzenpus
from the not-the-best-idea dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: If you ever wanted a glimpse into what dooms startups, look no further than autopsy.io, a website that lists the reasons why many newborn tech firms imploded. The website offers entrepreneurs the ability to self-explain why their startup didn't quite make it; in a bid to separate real-life stories from entertaining fictions, the application form asks for a link to a blog post or medium article "that tells the story of the failure," along with the founder(s) Twitter handle and Crunchbase or Angel.co profile. Some of the reasons listed for failure are maddeningly opaque, such as UniSport's "for a number of reasons" or PlayCafe's "we didn't reach enough users." Others are bleakly hilarious; as the founders of Zillionears, self-billed as a "creative pre-sale platform for musicians," confessed: "People really didn't really LIKE anything about our product." If you're thinking of launching your own company, or you work for a wet-behind-the-ears startup, it's worth scanning the list to see if any of these potential crises are brewing in your setup.
Education

Everyone Hates Harvard 348 348

Posted by Soulskill
from the people-just-like-getting-mad dept.
theodp writes: Hedge fund manager John Paulson personally took home nearly $4 billion in 2007 after convincing banks to create securities of sub-prime mortgages he could bet against. Now Harvard, which originally passed on an opportunity to join alum Paulson in his big bet, is also reaping the rewards of the nation's financial crisis as it renames its engineering school the "Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences" after receiving a staggering $400 million donation from Paulson, the largest gift in the university's history. Quartz argues that Paulson's $400 million Harvard donation just reinforces inequality. Author Malcolm Gladwell took to Twitter to voice his distaste (sampling: 1. "It came down to helping the poor or giving the world's richest university $400 mil it doesn't need. Wise choice John!" 2. "If billionaires don't step up, Harvard will soon be down to its last $30 billion." 3. "It's going to be named the John Paulson School of Financial Engineering.") And, in Everyone Hates Harvard, Philip Greenspun notes that even WSJ readers reacted with vitriol to the news. "I would have thought that Paulson would be a hero to market-following WSJ readers," remarks Greenspun, "not a villain."
Censorship

Anti-TPP Website Being Blacklisted 180 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the fighting-the-anti-fight dept.
so.dan writes: The CTO of Fight for the Future — the non-profit activism group behind Battle for the Net, Blackout Congress, and Stop Fast Track — Jeff Lyon, is seeking advice regarding a problem with facing the website they created — stopfasttrack.com — to fight the secret Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal.

The site been blacklisted by Twitter, Facebook, and major email providers as malicious/spam. Over the last week, nobody has been able to post the website on social networks, or send any emails with their URL. Lyon has posted a summary of the relevant details on Reddit in the hope of obtaining useful feedback regarding what the cause might be. However, none of the answers there right now seem particularly useful, so I'm hoping the Slashdot community can help him out by posting here.

Lyon indicates that the blackout has occurred at a particularly crucial point in the campaign to kill the TPP, as most members of the House of Representatives would likely vote against it were it brought to a vote now, and as pro-TPP interests have started to escalate their lobbying efforts on the House to counteract what would otherwise be a no vote.
Linux Business

Linux Kernel 4.1 Will Be an LTS Release 46 46

Posted by timothy
from the why-back-in-the-day-you'll-be-able-to-say dept.
New submitter prisoninmate writes: The Linux Foundation's LinuxLTSI (Long-Term Support Initiative) group has confirmed on Twitter that the next LTS version of the Linux kernel will be 4.1. The information has also been confirmed by Greg Kroah-Hartman, a renowned kernel developer who is currently maintaining several kernel branches, including a few LTS ones. When Linux kernel 4.1 is released, it will become the LTS version of 2015 and the most advanced long-term support release. This is significant because the LTSI releases are (or will be) everywhere, in a "Linux is everywhere" sense. As the initiative's page puts it, "The LTSI tree is expected to be a usable base for the majority of embedded systems, as well as the base for ecosystem players (e.g., semiconductor vendors, set-vendors, software component vendors, distributors, and system/application framework providers). ... The goal is to reduce the number of private trees currently in use in the CE industry and encourage more collaboration and sharing of development resources."
Microsoft

Microsoft Hasn't Given Up On the Non-Smart Phones It Inherited From Nokia 66 66

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-phone-left-behind dept.
jfruh writes: Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia's handset business was mostly focused on gaining a hardware line that ran the company's Windows Phone OS; but in the process, Microsoft also gained ownership of some model lines that are classified as "feature phones" and some that are straight up dumb, and they're still coming out with new models, confusingly still bearing the "Nokia" brand. The $20 Nokia 105 as billed as "long-lasting backup device" and comes with an FM radio, while the $30 Nokia 215 is "Internet-ready" and comes with Facebook and Twitter apps.
Stats

Google Diversity Report Straight Out of 'How To Lie With Statistics' Playbook 287 287

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-unlike-every-other-corporate-report dept.
theodp writes: Among the books recommended by Bill Gates for beach reading this summer is How to Lie With Statistics, the published-in-1954-but-timely-as-ever introduction to the (mis)use of statistics. So, how can one lie with statistics? "Sometimes it is percentages that are given and raw figures that are missing," explains the book, "and this can be deceptive too." So, does this explain Google's just-released Diversity Report and the accompanying chock-full-o-percentages narrative (find-all-%-image), which boasts "the Black community in grew [sic] by 38 percent", while the less-impressive raw figures — e.g., the number of Google employees increased by 5,928, but the ranks of Black females only increased by 35 (less than 0.6% of the net increase) — are relegated to a PDF of its EEO-1 Report that's linked to in the fine-print footnotes? To be fair to Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Apple and Amazon didn't want people to see their EEO-1 numbers, either.