Europe Code Week 2015: Cocktails At Microsoft, 'Ode To Code' Robot Dancing 9

theodp writes: In case your invite to next week's Europe Code Week 2015 kickoff celebration at the Microsoft Centre in Brussels was lost in the e-mail, you can apparently still invite yourself. "Let's meet to celebrate coding as an empowering competence, key for maintaining our society vibrant and securing the prosperity of our European digital economy," reads the invite at the Microsoft and Facebook-powered All you Need is Code website. And to "keep raising awareness of the importance of computational thinking beyond Code Week," EU Code Week is also running an Ode to Code Video Contest, asking people to make short YouTube videos showing how the event's Ode to Code soundtrack causes uncontrollable robot dancing (video) and flash mobs (video). Things sure have changed since thirty years ago, when schoolchildren were provided with materials like The BASIC Book to foster computational thinking!

Google Lets Advertisers Target By (Anonymized) Customer Data 58

An anonymous reader writes: Google's new advertising product, called Customer Match, lets advertisers upload their customer and promotional email address lists into AdWords. The new targeting capability extends beyond search to include both YouTube Trueview ads and the newly launched native ads in Gmail. Customer Match marks the first time Google has allowed advertisers to target ads against customer-owned data in Adwords. Google matches the email addresses against those of signed-in users on Google. Individual addresses are hashed and are supposedly anonymized. Advertisers will be able to set bids and create ads specifically geared to audiences built from their email lists. This new functionality seems to make de-anonymization of google's supposedly proprietary customer data just a hop, skip and jump away. If you can specify the list of addresses that get served an ad, and the criteria like what search terms will trigger that ad, you can detect if and when your target searches for specific terms. For example, create an email list that contains your target and 100 invalid email addresses that no one uses (just in case google gets wise to single-entry email lists). Repeat as necessary for as many keywords and as many email addresses that you wish to monitor.

Hour of Code Kicks Off In Chile With Dog Poop-Themed CS Tutorial 49

theodp writes: In an interesting contrast to the Disney princess-themed Hour of Code tutorial that 'taught President Obama to code' last December, Chile is kicking off its 2015 Hora del Codigo this week with a top-featured Blockly tutorial that teaches computer science by having kids drag-and-drop blocks of code to pick up dog poop. "Collect all the shit you have left your dog," reads the Google translated instructions for the final coding exercise. In its new video for the Hour of Code 2015 campaign, tech billionaire-backed notes that it's striving to reach 200 million schoolchildren worldwide by this December. Presumably towards that end, warns that it will penalize Computer Science tutorials that "work only in English."

Motorola Marketed the Moto E 2015 On Promise of Updates, Stops After 219 Days 123

An anonymous reader writes: Over the past few years, Motorola has emerged as one of the best manufacturers for low-to-mid-range Android phones. Unlike many other major manufacturers, they keep their version of Android close to stock in order to keep OS updates flowing more easily. When they began marketing the Moto E 2015, updates were one of the features they trumpeted the loudest. But after the company published a list of devices that will continue to get updates, Android Police found the Moto E to be conspicuously absent. The phone launched on February 25, a mere 219 days ago. According to an official Motorola marketing video from launch day, "...we won't forget about you, and we'll make sure your Moto E stays up to date after you buy it."
United States

The FAA Has Missed Its Congressionally Mandated Deadline To Regulate Drones 184

derekmead writes: When Congress passed the FAA Modernization Act in 2012, it gave the agency until September 30, 2015 to fully regulate commercial drones for use in the United States. Well, it's October 1, and we're left with a patchwork of regulatory band-aids, quasi-legal "guidelines," and a small drone rule that still hasn't gone into effect yet. This news shouldn't surprise anyone. The agency has missed most every milestone—both internal and lawmaker mandated—that has been set for it. The last two years have been fraught with lawsuits, confusion on enforcement within its own local offices (some FAA agents have told pilots they can't post videos on YouTube, for example), and various conflicting guidelines as to who can fly a drone where, and for what purposes.

Study: Man-Made Global Warming First Became Evident In the Mid 20th Century 403

TapeCutter writes: In 1958 the US National Academies of Science (NAS) warned the US government that they had detected a robust Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) signal, they have not changed their mind on that claim for 57 years. Like the modern day Al Gore, Frank Capra publicized the possible effects in a popular documentary (video). Today we have news of a study from Melbourne University claiming the effects of AGW first became evident in the mid 20th century. In other words, the NAS could not have picked up the signal much earlier than they actually did. The fact that the last serious scientific objection to AGW (as a theory) was overcome in the mid 20th century by improving spectrometers in heat seeking missile was a remarkable coincidence, NAS took full advantage of that opportunity.

ESA-JAXA Team Wins 'America's Cup of Rocket Science' 20

An anonymous reader writes: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory just announced the winners of the 8th edition of the Global Trajectory Optimization Competition, aka the America's Cup of Rocket Science. For the first time, a joint team from ESA and JAXA won the prestigious award. They had to design a nearly impossible mission to perform space-based Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry using the formation flight of three spacecraft around the Earth. Their incredibly complex trajectory can be seen here on the YouTube channel of the winning team. The full final ranking can be also downloaded here.

Bjarne Stroustrup Announces the C++ Core Guidelines 262

alphabetsoup writes: At CppCon this year, Bjarne Stroustrup announced the C++ Core Guidelines. The guidelines are designed to help programmers write safe-by-default C++ with no run-time overhead. Compilers will statically check the code to ensure no violations. A library is available now, with a static checking tool to follow in October.

Here is the video of the talk, and here are the slides.The guidelines themselves are here.

Google DeepMind's AI Beats Humans At Even More Computer Games 96

An anonymous reader writes: Google DeepMind's learning algorithm has trumped human performance in an even greater range of games from the Atari 2600. The system's performance in classic games for the 80's games console has improved steadily since it was revealed in April last year (video) and a paper released yesterday shows it besting people in 31 titles.

Girls-Only Computer Camps Formed At Behest of Top Google, Facebook Execs 449

theodp writes: Reporting on Google exec Susan Wojcicki's appearance at DreamForce, Inc.'s Tess Townsend writes: "The YouTube CEO said her daughter had stated point-blank that she did not like computers, so Wojcicki enrolled her in a computer camp. The camp made her daughter dislike tech even more. Wojcicki reported her daughter came back saying, 'Everyone in the class was a boy and nobody was like me and now I hate computers even more.' So, mom called the camp and spoke to the CEO, asking that the camp be made more welcoming to girls" (video). Fortune reported last July that it was the urging of Wojcicki and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that prompted iD Tech Camps — which Wojcicki's and Sandberg's kids had attended — to spin off a girls-only chain of tech camps called Alexa Cafe, which was trialed in the Bay Area in 2014 and expanded to nine locations in 2015. Earlier this month, Fortune noted that Wojcicki's daughter attended the $949-a-week Alexa Cafe summer camp at Palo Alto High, which was coincidentally hosted in the multi-million dollar Media Center (video) that was built thanks to the efforts of Wojcicki's mother Esther (a long-time Paly journalism teacher) and partially furnished and equipped by sister Anne (23andMe CEO) and ex-brother-in-law Sergey Brin's charitable foundation.

Barbie Gets a Brain 235

minstrelmike writes: Mattel is coming out with a Talking Barbie designed by a huge team and pre-scripted with thousands of responses controlled by an AI, with designs to be your best friend. The design team remembers the "Math is hard" debacle of the 1990s and if a girl asks if she's pretty, Barbie will respond, "Yes. And you're smart, too." If she asks if Barbie believes in God, she says a person's beliefs are personal. And suggests talking to grownups about some problems. The linked New York Times' article ("Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child") even discusses trying to avoid edited vids on YouTube by scripting out words such as "cockroach."

Nintendo Nixes YouTube Videos of Super Mario Speedruns 151

The Boston Globe reports (based on Kotaku's story earlier this month) that Nintendo is cracking down on YouTube videos which show speedruns of its games -- computer-guided play that skips completely human hands pressing buttons on a controller. Why? The article notes that these play-throughs "require the use of ROMs, digital backup files of the original game that can be freely passed from computer to computer, or downloaded from well-known websites. Therefore, Nintendo reasons — and YouTube is clearly sympathetic to this reasoning — there are copyright issues at play, since players aren’t using the (ancient) original game cartridges, or newer copies sold directly online by Nintendo." Legally justifiable or not, this seems unlikely to build goodwill with some of Nintendo's most nostalgic fans.
The Military

Researchers Fly 50 Autonomous Planes Simultaneously 39

New submitter MagicRuB writes: Researchers at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA recently flew fifty small autonomous planes together in what they claim is a "record-breaking drone swarm". These aircraft were built from lightweight foam wings with hobby-grade components, and were equipped with an autopilot running firmware based on the open-source Ardupilot project as well as a companion computer running custom autonomy software built on top of ROS and an 802.11n wireless device to communicate with other planes and ground stations. The researchers are using this swarm as a platform for advancing drone technology, and hope to see results implemented in agriculture, search and rescue, and defense applications.
The Courts

YouTube 'Dancing Baby' Copyright Ruling Sets Pre-Trial Fair Use Guideline 127

Mr. Droopy Drawers writes with news that the famous "Dancing Baby" case will move forward to trial, after a pre-trial ruling Monday that's already unpopular with the copyright holders on one side of the case. The New York Times reports that a three-judge panel has "ruled that copyright holders must consider fair use before asking services like YouTube to remove videos that include material they control. ... [The guideline] "sends a strong message that copyright law does not authorize thoughtless censorship of lawful speech," Corynne McSherry, the legal director for Electronic Frontier Foundation, said in a statement." Mr. Droopy Drawers adds, "Of course, the RIAA is none too happy about the ruling saying, that it puts undue burden on copyright holders. However, the judge countered, 'Even paying "lip service" to the consideration of fair use is not enough, and could expose a copyright holder to liability.'"

(Also covered in an AP story carried by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.)
Input Devices

Using a Smartphone As a Virtual Reality Controller 13

New submitter mutherhacker writes: A group from Osaka University in Japan and McMaster University in Canada have presented a method to control a virtual 3D object using a smartphone [video]. The method was primarily designed for presentations but also applies to virtual reality using a head mounted display, gaming or even quadrocopter control. There is an open paper online as well as a git repository for both the client and the server. The client smartphone communicates with the main computer over the network with TUIO for touch and Google protocol buffers for orientation sensor data.

Rupert Murdoch Buys National Geographic Magazine 286

dywolf writes: In a move that has inspired "dread" among the publication's journalists, as well as long time readers, Rupert Murdoch has just bought a controlling interest in all of National Geographic's media properties. The move turns the long time non-profit into a for-profit media corporation in the process. Some commenters have pointed to Murdoch's previous collaboration with the National Geographic Society, the NatGeo TV channel, as well other once respected publications he has bought such as the Wall Street Journal, as an example of what to expect, and to explain their apprehension at the deal. This raises a question for reader KatchooNJ: As many of you likely know, Rupert Murdoch has famously not been quiet about his denial of climate change. National Geographic gives grants to scientists... so, is anything going to now change with the focus of National Geographic's organization?

Ask Slashdot: Cheapest Functional Computer For Students? 508

An anonymous reader writes: I've started a second career, teaching English at a High School in a middle class area. While the large majority of students have a computer and internet access at home, about 10-15% do not. I assign papers that must be typed, I have papers turned in online, and I plan to freely refer to texts, videos, and other resources that are available online. This gives an extra disadvantage to students that may be from the poorer end of the strata, and also means extra inefficiency for me, as I have to make allowances for students who don't have a computer available at home.

Right now, I have to tell them to either use school computers during the day, or to pick up a $170 laptop (more than enough — I administer the class using such a laptop). However, I was surprised at the lack of a super-cheap option for students. I'd love to see something for $20 that any student could afford easily, or perhaps I could just gift to a few students. I feel like something in this price range could be sufficiently powerful for basic word processing, youtube videos, and internet searches (internet access is a separate issue). But looking over my options I see:

1) The very cheapest Chromebooks are also in the $170 range.
2) Android Sticks have been around for a while, and do cost in the $20 range, but don't seem to have matured into a generally usable technology. Surprisingly, there doesn't seem to be a community effort to easily turn these Android sticks into Ubuntu/Mint sticks.
3) Students can't be assumed to have the technical know-how to fix up a Salvation Army computer (I wouldn't mind helping out a bit, but I don't want to turn into tech support)
4) A Raspberry Pi costs $70 once you include a case/power supply/etc, and students would receive a big bag of parts.
5) Cheap Windows Tablets have glitches, and don't have an HDMI out.
6) There isn't a good solution to using a cell phone as a desktop computer.

Are any of my assumptions wrong? Are there any other options I'm not considering?

Genes and Ancient Remedies May Help Fight Antibiotic Resistance 30

szczys writes: We've been hearing about it for years; bacteria are developing resistance to antibiotics and evolving into what are called superbugs. Some forecast the end of our ability to combat infection, but humanity has a knack for making breakthroughs that carry everyone forward. Dan Maloney looked at what is being done to combat antibiotic-resistance and the answer combines new technology with old remedies. It turns out that there are many ancient cures that successfully combat infections (video); they're just mixed in among a lot of cruft. More modern efforts focus on attacking bacteria on the genetic level which is a research area just getting itself up to speed now.

Hedgehog Rovers Hop and Tumble In Microgravity 31

New submitter rgreid writes: Prototypes of a new type of rover designed to explore the surface of comets and asteroids have been demonstrated recently by JPL and Stanford. Videos of the rovers in NASA's "vomit comet" show the Hedgehog prototypes performing hopping and tumbling maneuvers in a low-gravity environment. The low gravity and rough terrains found on comets and asteroids make driving with traditional rovers difficult and hazardous— the Hedgehog rovers are specifically designed to overcome these challenges and use the low gravity environment to their advantage. A last-resort "tornado" maneuver shows how the Hedgehogs could leap upwards if they get stuck in a sinkhole. The team's concept was previously covered in 2013; this recent work goes a long way toward demonstrating that Hedgehog rovers could work on a real comet or asteroid.

YouTube Reportedly Bypassing Ad Blockers On Google Chrome 296

An anonymous reader writes: YouTube users have lit up twitter today, angry about an apparent change of policy by Google, which now seems to be showing ads in front of videos on YouTube even when using Adblock. Neowin reports: "Google's workaround seems to be applicable to all similar extensions and isn't exclusive to just AdBlock Plus. The company has not stopped at just skirting the extension, however. Users with AdBlock enabled will now have to see full-length video ads with no option to skip them half-way through, a feature YouTube has offered for a very long time. The only way to get the option back is to disable AdBlock, or to whitelist YouTube."