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Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Stuff

Great news for New York
"As recently as four years ago, nuclear power companies were planning to spend billions of dollars to build a new reactor in Oswego County, alongside three existing nuclear plants. Then the bottom fell out. Natural gas-burning power plants that benefit from a glut of cheap gas produced by hydrofracking cut wholesale electricity prices in half. Now the outlook for nuclear power plants is so bleak that Wall Street analysts say one or more Upstate nuclear plants could go out of business if conditions don't change. Two Upstate nukes in particular — the James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Oswego County and the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in nearby Wayne County — are high on the watch list of plants that industry experts say are at risk of closing for economic reasons."

Remember how we first got introduced to a computer?
We did not know anything and were very cautious and worried that we would do the wrong thing. Then slowly we adapted to using computers, and along came the "Internet" and we once again had a learning curve. Most of us typically had someone that we thought knew a lot about all of this who guided us through the maze. Then we soon enough discovered that the net was a great place to find out anything that we wanted to know.

Well our young people are no different...

 "Los Angeles Unified School District started issuing iPads to its students this school year, as part of a $30 million deal with Apple. Now Sam Sanders reports at NPR that less than a week after getting their iPads, high school students have found a way to bypass software blocks on the devices that limit what websites the students can use. 

The students are getting around software that lets school district officials know where the iPads are, what the students are doing with them at all times and lets the district block certain sites, such as social media favorites like Facebook.

 'They were bound to fail,' says Renee Hobbs, who's been a skeptic of the iPad program from the start. 'There is a huge history in American education of being attracted to the new, shiny, hugely promising bauble and then watching the idea fizzle because teachers weren't properly trained to use it and it just ended up in the closet.' 

The rollout of the iPads might have to be delayed as officials reassess access policies. Right now, the program is still in Phase 1, with fewer than 15,000 iPads distributed. 'I'm guessing this is just a sample of what will likely occur on other campuses once this hits Twitter, YouTube or other social media sites explaining to our students how to breach or compromise the security of these devices,' says Steven Zipperman. 'I want to prevent a "runaway train" scenario when we may have the ability to put a hold on the roll-out.' The incident has prompted questions about overall preparations for the $1-billion tablet initiative." 
Gee what could possibly go wrong? 

Personally, I think that money could better be spent on good old fashioned computer labs. A good student PC is a heck of a lot cheaper, and these kids need to learn to type on a real keyboard or else they're going to be at a huge disadvantage compared to their peers who do.

Crime sniffing rats are better then the Dogs?
 "Ratting someone out' just became much more literal. Dutch police are using trained rats to help
keep the streets clean. 'Detective Derrick and his rat partners cost just £8 each and are capable of being trained to identify an impressive range of odors—including drugs and explosives—within ten to 15 days. In contrast, a police dog costs thousands of pounds and requires a minimum training period of eight months. The training procedure is straightforward: the rats are kept in a cage with four metal tea strainers attached inside, one of which contains gunpowder. When the rat recognizes the smell, it is rewarded with a "click" and a small treat. Eventually the rat will learn to move towards the smell instantly. In a demonstration it takes Derrick just two seconds to locate the offending odor."

 "A group of scientists have confirmed a link between the sonar, used by Exxon Mobil to map the ocean floor for oil, and the death of melon-headed whales. From the article: 'A spokesman for ExxonMobil said the company disagrees with the findings. "ExxonMobil believes the panel's finding about the multi-beam echo sounder is unjustified due to the lack of certainty of information and observations recorded during the response efforts in 2008," spokesman Patrick McGinn told AFP in an email. He added that observers employed by the Madagascar government and the oil giant "were on board the vessel and did not observe any whales in the area."'"

The Next Billionares?
  "AdTrap." It's a white box that hooks up between your modem and wireless router and blocks data from ad networks before it can even reach your computer. Speaking of profit motive: Russell and Butkus' are offering their box for the low low price of $139.

 Shutdown or no shutdown, members of Congress aren’t worried about their own finances this week. Patricia Murphy on how the 27th Amendment protects the salaries of the House and Senate.


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