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Display this news only Petition Asks Adobe To Open-Source Flash To Preserve Internet History
07/30/17English
Slashdot An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer: A petition is asking Adobe to release Flash into the hands of the open-source community. Finnish developer Juha Lindstedt started the petition a day after Adobe announced plans to end Flash support by the end of 2020. "Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash means future generations can't access the past," Lindstedt explains in the petition's opening paragraph. "Games, experiments and websites would be forgotten." The developer wants Adobe to open-source Flash or parts of its technology so the open-source community could take on the job of supporting a minimal version of the Flash plugin or at least create a tool to accurately convert old SWF and FLA files to modern HTML5, canvas data, or WebAssembly code... Lindstedt is asking users to sign the petition by starring the project on GitHub. At the time of writing, the petition has garnered over 3,000 stars.
A reporter at ZDNet counters that "the only way to really secure Flash is to get rid of it... If Flash lives, people will continue to use it, and without security support, it will be even more insecure than ever." He points out there's already several programs that convert Flash into other formats -- and that Adobe already open sourced its Flex framework for building Flash applications back in 2008 (now supported by the Apache Software Foundation as Apache Flex). "In other words, we don't need the Flash source code to convert or create Flash files. Just let Flash go already...!

"Usually, I'm favor with open-sourcing everything and anything. Not this time. Flash has proven to be a net of endless security holes. It's time to let it go for once and for all.

Display this news only Students Are Better Off Without a Laptop In the Classroom
07/11/17English
Slashdot Cindi May writes via Scientific American about new research that "suggests that laptops do not enhance classroom learning, and in fact students would be better off leaving their laptops in the dorm during class." From the report: Although computer use during class may create the illusion of enhanced engagement with course content, it more often reflects engagement with social media, YouTube videos, instant messaging, and other nonacademic content. This self-inflicted distraction comes at a cost, as students are spending up to one-third of valuable (and costly) class time zoned out, and the longer they are online the more their grades tend to suffer. To understand how students are using computers during class and the impact it has on learning, Susan Ravizza and colleagues took the unique approach of asking students to voluntarily login to a proxy server at the start of each class, with the understanding that their internet use (including the sites they visited) would be tracked. Participants were required to login for at least half of the 15 class periods, though they were not required to use the internet in any way once they logged in to the server. Researchers were able to track the internet use and academic performance of 84 students across the semester.

participants spent almost 40 minutes out of every 100-minute class period using the internet for nonacademic purposes, including social media, checking email, shopping, reading the news, chatting, watching videos, and playing games. This nonacademic use was negatively associated with final exam scores, such that students with higher use tended to score lower on the exam. Social media sites were the most-frequently visited sites during class, and importantly these sites, along with online video sites, proved to be the most disruptive with respect to academic outcomes. In contrast with their heavy nonacademic internet use, students spent less than 5 minutes on average using the internet for class-related purposes (e.g., accessing the syllabus, reviewing course-related slides or supplemental materials, searching for content related to the lecture). Given the relatively small amount of time students spent on academic internet use, it is not surprising that academic internet use was unrelated to course performance. Thus students who brought their laptops to class to view online course-related materials did not actually spend much time doing so, and furthermore showed no benefit of having access to those materials in class.


Display this news only Only 100 Companies Are Responsible For 71 Percent of Global Emissions, Says Study
07/10/17English
Slashdot An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report. The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) "pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions," says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute. The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 -- the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established -- can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988. If fossil fuels continue to be extracted at the same rate over the next 28 years as they were between 1988 and 2017, says the report, global average temperatures would be on course to rise by 4C by the end of the century. This is likely to have catastrophic consequences including substantial species extinction and global food scarcity risks.

Display this news only World's Cheapest Energy Source Will Be Renewables Within Three Years
07/10/17English
Slashdot Morgan Stanley researchers predict renewable energy will become the world's cheapest form of power within three years. An anonymous reader quotes Qz: Renewable energy is simply becoming the cheapest option, fast... "We project that by 2020, renewables will be the cheapest form of new-power generation across the globe," with the exception of a few countries in Southeast Asia, the Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report published Thursday... Globally, the price of solar panels has fallen 50% between 2016 and 2017, they write. And in countries with favorable wind conditions, the costs associated with wind power "can be as low as one-half to one-third that of coal- or natural gas-fired power plants." Innovations in wind-turbine design are allowing for ever-longer wind blades; that boost in efficiency will also increase power output from the wind sector, according to Morgan Stanley.
The researchers also predict America will reach its Paris Climate Accord targets in 2020 -- five years early -- simply because renewables are already becoming the cheapest option for power.

Display this news only Raspberry Pi's Smaller, Cheaper Rival: NanoPi Neo Plus2 Weighs in at $25
07/05/17English
Slashdot FriendlyARM, the maker of compact NanoPi developer boards, has released the NanoPi Neo Plus2 for $25. From a report: This board is an update to the recently released NanoPi Neo 2, a $15 cookie-sized developer board measuring 40mm x 40mm (1.6in) with a 64-bit Allwinner H5 processor, 512MB RAM, and one USB port. The NanoPi Neo Plus2 is slightly larger at 52mm x 40mm (2in x 1.6in) and has two USB ports. It has the same H5 quad-core A53 ARM Cortex processor, but comes with 1GB RAM and 8GB eMMC storage. The NeoPlus2's storage in addition to Gigabit Ethernet puts it ahead of the Raspberry Pi 3 on paper, and at $25 undercuts the better-known board by $10.

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