What if school was out, forever?

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Today a future without schools. Instead of gathering students into a room and teaching them, everybody learns on their own time, on tablets and guided by artificial intelligence.

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In this episode we talk to a computer scientist who developed an artificially intelligent TA, folks who build learning apps, and critics who wonder if all the promises being made are too good to be true. What do we gain when we let students choose their own paths? What do we lose when we get rid of schools?

Illustration by Matt Lubchansky.

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Lament for the hard drive

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Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is "stuck" in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don't need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, which address performance bottlenecks. A great line: "Maybe in a decade or two the spinning disk will make a comeback, the way vinyl LPs and vacuum tube amplifiers have. Data that comes off a mechanical disk has a subtle warmth and presence that no solid-state drive can match."

Odd memory: my first story at Wired involved interviewing Mark Kryder. Read the rest

Squarespace staffer claims exec told them "you’re so black, you blend into the chair"

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Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there. Read the rest

How would we get rid of every single mosquito?

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In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences?

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We talk to experts on mosquito ecology, public health, and a guy who’s trying to genetically engineer mosquitoes to eliminate themselves. We talk about everything from how hard it would be to exterminate mosquitoes, to which species we should target, to what the potential side effects might be. Listen for all that and more!

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Check out all the great podcasts that Boing Boing has to offer! Read the rest

The Malware Museum

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At The Malware Musuem you can enjoy the experience of DOS-era viruses, trojans and other digital beasties without any of the risk. Many of them manifested as wild graphical tricks and other spectacular coding feats, distracting you as they formatted hard drives or corrupted files.

The Malware Museum is a collection of malware programs, usually viruses, that were distributed in the 1980s and 1990s on home computers. Once they infected a system, they would sometimes show animation or messages that you had been infected. Through the use of emulations, and additionally removing any destructive routines within the viruses, this collection allows you to experience virus infection of decades ago with safety.

Pictured above is LSD.COM Read the rest

Old payphones becoming "masturbation stations" in NYC

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Neglected public payphones in New York City are being turned into "GuyFi" stations: a place where one can rub one out for the sake of "stress relief." Annalee Newitz reports on the wank booths from a company named "Hot Octopus"…

The company reported that at least 100 men used the booth on its opening day last week. Of course, public masturbation is illegal—and a rep from Hot Octopuss told Mashable, "We may be insinuating that these booths could be used in whichever way anyone would like to 'self soothe,' [but] the brand is not actively encouraging people to masturbate in public as that is an illegal offense." No word on how fast the Internet connection was, or whether there would be any efforts to help women "self soothe" at a rate equal to men in the workplace.

An armed society is a polite society: Snopes.

In NYC, pay phones become free Wi-Fi hotspots—and masturbation stations Read the rest

After 40 years, Sony retires Betamax

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You'd be forgiven for thinking the videocassette format long-dead, but it turns out that Betamax is still around. Sony is finally going to withdraw tapes from sale, bringing a 40-year story to an end.

The last recorders were sold in 2002.

ベータビデオカセットおよびマイクロMVカセットテープ出荷終了のお知らせ [Sony; via The Verge] Read the rest

In leaked document, Comcast admits data caps are not about congestion

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A leaked Comcast memo discloses that the company's consumer data caps have nothing to do with network congestion, contrary to its public claims.

The internet service provider has often complained (such as when lobbying against net neutrality) that it must impose limits on service to prevent network congestion. The argument suggests that these measures are required for the public good: to manage traffic, to give everyone fair access to the "road," to stymie abusive or selfish "drivers," you shouldn't be using more than 250 gigabytes of data each month. Read the rest

Upvote this: Teach kids in underserved communities how to code with Minecraft

Camp Minecraft. The goal: Bring it to more kids whose families can't pay.

LA Makerspace co-founder Tara Tiger Brown shares a project that her kid-friendly maker workshop is trying to make a reality.

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13 million passwords compromised in webhost hack

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The web-hosting service 000Webhost stored user passwords as plain text. We know this because 13 million of them were exposed in a five-month old hack whose consequences are only now becoming clear. Read the rest

Powerful new tool literally blasts mean internet comments to smithereens

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Tanner Stokes of Herp Derp fame has done it again. He invented what we have all longed for, since the internet began: an effective way to shut people up.

“Plasma ball destroys the web.”

Yes, friends, Tanner's latest creation is the answer to unfriendly YouTube comments, harassing or abusive Facebook posts, douchey viral ads, you name it. Whatever on the internet is wrong. Read the rest

Sparkle Labs' Amy Parness on "pink girly engineering kits"

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I asked Amy Parness, the co-founder of Sparkle Labs, maker of fantastic educational electronics kits, to write a Medium post about gender and the business of being a maker business person. Her terrific essay calls out the problems with "pink girly engineering kits." From Medium: Read the rest

Zero UI will "change design"

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Zero UI is the new term for "invisible interfaces"—what happens in the future when all the clicking and tapping and typing is history: "If you look at the history of computing, starting with the jacquard loom in 1801, humans have always had to interact with machines in a really abstract, complex way." [Fast Company] Read the rest

Twitter chief resigns

Dick Costolo. Photo: Stephen Lam, Reuters
CEO Dick Costolo will resign, to be replaced in the interim by Jack Dorsey

Recode joins Vox Media

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Recode, the tech news site founded last year by former WSJ journalists Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, is being sold to Vox Media in an all-stock deal.

This is the next big step in our mission to bring you quality tech journalism, because our work will now be amplified and enhanced by Vox Media’s deep and broad skill set. … Re/code will benefit from joining Vox Media by integrating Vox Media’s various capabilities — including marketing, communications, audience development, sales and production. We will also eventually migrate to Vox Media’s beautiful, powerful and flexible proprietary publishing platform, which will give us new ways to present our stories to you.

Growth is the watchword, but it's startling that access to a different content management system is worthy of mention. WordPress just isn't working for publishers, it seems. The Verge, Vox's sprawling gadgets/tech/entertainment hub, will tighten its focus to make way.

Verge Editor Nilay Patel:

…along the way, we made a big decision: The Verge is not a business site. The Verge is for people interested in understanding the exciting and bewildering everyday changes of the future. It's for all of us trying to figure out how we should live and act and behave in this enchanting new world of screens. It's for people wondering what to spend their money on — and for people thinking about how spending that money affects everyone else around them. It's for knowing about trends and ideas across technology and culture first. It's about art and science coming together to spark one of the fastest eras of change in history.

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Remixing Taylor Swift to talk about women in tech

Sumana writes, " As Julie Pagano put it: 'So many 'diversity in tech' efforts are about getting young women into the pipeline; ignore the fact that there's a meat grinder at the end.'" Read the rest

CTO Megan Smith explains how women in tech are erased from history

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Chief Technology Officer of the United States, Megan Smith, stopped by the Charlie Rose show recently and revealed a starting fact Read the rest

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