April 7, 2010, 12:34 am
In another potential setback for the vast digital library planned by Google, several groups representing photographers and other visual artists plan to file a federal lawsuit against the company on Wednesday, alleging that its efforts to digitize millions of library books amounts to a large-scale infringement of their copyrights, The New York Times reported.
Google has reached a potential settlement with authors and publishers who sued on similar grounds in 2005, but a federal judge has not yet signed off on it. Possibly prolonging the lengthy proceedings, the U.S. Department of Justice has recently filed court papers saying the settlement still needs work.
The photographers’ groups in the new lawsuit had sought to intervene in the settlement with authors and publishers, but were rejected. The pending settlement agreement largely excludes photographs and other visual works.
February 21, 2010, 8:39 pm
By Mara Hvistendahl
Computer-security experts who are investigating the recent online attacks on Google and other companies have identified two institutions of higher education in China as suspected sources of the attacks, according to The New York Times. If those suspicions are confirmed, it would not be the first time one of those institutions has been linked to an international hacking incident: Seven years ago, a student at Shanghai Jiaotong University, claimed involvement in a 2001 hack that brought down the White House Web site.
While that student and others hacked independently, evidence suggests that administrators at Shanghai Jiaotong and its information-security school knew of the students’ activities. Administrators stood by as students formed hackers groups, organized hacking seminars, and exchanged tips on intrusion techniques.
But that doesn’t mean that the institution is…
January 13, 2010, 10:55 pm
In agreements announced by the U.S. Justice Department today, three higher-education institutions pledged not to use Amazon’s Kindle DX electronic-book reader or any similar devices “unless the devices are fully accessible to students who are blind and have low vision.”
The agreements with Case Western Reserve University, Pace University, and Reed College follow a similar agreement announced on Monday by Arizona State University and two national organizations representing the blind that sued Arizona State over its use of the Kindle. The Justice Department was also a party to that agreement. The groups had asked its Civil Rights Division to investigate whether e-book practices at several universities violated the rights of blind students under the Americans With Disabilities Act.
In today’s announcement, the assistant attorney general, Thomas E. Perez, noted that new technologies are…
January 11, 2010, 8:56 pm
Arizona State University and two national organizations representing the blind that sued the institution over its use of the Amazon Kindle have reached an agreement to settle the lawsuit, the three parties announced in a joint statement today.
Arizona State is one of several universities involved in a pilot program testing the Kindle DX, an electronic-reading device.
The complaint, filed by the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind, alleged that using the Kindle to distribute electronic textbooks violated federal law because the device cannot be used by blind students.
The settlement agreement does not involve any monetary damages, and Arizona State continues to deny any violation of the law. But the university did agree that if it did decide to use e-book readers in classes over the next two years, “it will strive to use devices that are accessible to…
February 5, 2009, 6:40 am
The $10 laptop computer that India announced last week turns out to be something less than a computer and its cost is at least double the initial estimate, The Times of India reports.
The ministry that announced the invention last week had called it a low-power laptop computer and said the devices would be available in India within six months at a cost of just $10 apiece. The machines were to be part of an initiative to increase the number of students pursuing a higher education. But the prototype unveiled today, called “Sakshat,” turned out to be a computing device with a hard disk for storing e-books, e-journals, and other educational materials, the newspaper said.
A writer on Wired’s Gadget Lab blog described the device as “little more than a box with sockets” and pointed out that it was useless without the addition of a more costly input device and monitor.
As for its cost,…
October 12, 2006, 5:00 am
Can open-source and commercial software peacefully coexist at the same college? Two officials from Virginia Tech University seem to think so. During a session at the Educause conference in Dallas on Wednesday, Jeshua Pacifici, assistant director for the university’s Graduate Education Development Institute, and Kim Gausepohl, a learning systems manager, talked about how they had brought in Sakai, an open-source course-management software, after the campus had been using Blackboard software almost exclusively.
Mr. Pacifici said that when Virginia Tech began having trouble with recent versions of Blackboard, technology officials bemoaned that they did not have access to the commercial software’s computer code to fix the problems. Bringing in open source, however, made them nervous. For one thing, the buck would stop with them. If something went wrong, he said, they didn’t have a vendor to…
August 14, 2006, 8:00 am
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Laboratory is reinventing itself to focus more on projects with practical applications, according The Boston Globe.
In changes led by a new director, Frank Moss, who took over in February, the high-tech center has been shifting its focus from multimedia and technology convergence to concerns like aging and health care. Mr. Moss told the newspaper that he wants to intensify the lab’s concentration on technologies that deal with the problems of society’s “disadvantaged, disabled, and disenfranchised,” such as $100 laptop computers, digitally controlled prosthetic limbs, and robotic elder care. And, in addition to seeking corporate sponsors, he has opened talks with philanthropic groups, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In the past, the lab attracted news-media buzz—and corporate support—with flashy events like fashion shows of…
August 14, 2006, 7:41 am
Computers may have defeated the world’s best chess masters, but they aren’t ready to take on human poker players, says Jonathan Schaeffer, of the University of Alberta. That’s because computer scientists have not yet figured out how to write programs that can make informed decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information, he told the Canadian Press News Service.
Mr. Schaeffer, who is chairman of the university’s computer-science department and holder of a Canada research chair in artificial intelligence, was part of the team that designed Hyperborean, a computer that took top prizes a tournament for poker-playing programs, held last month by the American Association of Artificial Intelligence (The Wired Campus, July 6).
Poker is more challenging than chess, Mr. Schaeffer said, because in the latter you can look at the board and “have complete knowledge of the game.”
February 20, 2006, 6:50 pm
Clickers, the handheld devices similar to remote controls that are showing up in college classrooms across the country, have been embraced by some professors as a way of getting students more involved in class discussions. But some students are not convinced that the educational value outweighs the cost. At the University of Connecticut, where the devices cost about $20, a clicker required for one course may not work in another. And sometimes a clicker is bundled with textbooks, meaning students cannot purchase the device or the books independently. Administrators are looking for solutions to those problems. Professors who have adopted their use also have experienced a few problems with clickers but remain enthusiastic about their benefits. "In one lecture section," says Adam Fry, a professor of biology, "it was great to see that 90 percent of the students understood what I had taught …
February 20, 2006, 4:39 pm
With cellphone technologies constantly changing — and last year’s must-have feature rapidly waning in coolness factor — it’s no wonder that college students change their handsets every 18 months, according to market-research estimates. But what becomes of the old phone? Tossing it in the trash is not an environmentally friendly option. Cellphone components and batteries contain lead, arsenic, and other toxins that can leach from landfills, contaminating groundwater. The University of Colorado at Boulder and a local company, the Wireless Alliance, are giving students a better option. The partnership is placing recycling kiosks on the campus to collect discarded phones, which will be sold to the Wireless Alliance and repurposed, reused, or recycled. Money raised through the program will go to community-development projects.