National / International News

May and Gove in row over extremism

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 06:16
Two of the most senior members of the Cabinet have become embroiled in a bitter row over allegations of extremism in state schools in Birmingham.

Russian fighter intercepted US plane

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 06:05
A Russian fighter jet flew within 100ft (30m) of a US Air Force plane over international waters near Japan in April, the Pentagon says.

While more secure, Chip and PIN technology is costly

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-04 06:03

Sam’s Club, the warehouse chain owned by Walmart, is unveiling credit cards with chip-enabled safety technology. In fact, they’re declaring themselves the first mass retailer to do so in the U.S. The cards will be co-branded with MasterCard.

Chip and PIN technology is more secure than the magnetic strip on the back of many cards. Target learned that the hard way when it was hacked last year.

Carl Howe, vice president of research and data sciences at Yankee Group, says the biggest obstacle to adopting chip-enabled technology in the U.S. has been cost, including the price tag for overhauling all those point of sale devices where we swipe our cards now.

“Those are expensive devices -- a few thousand dollars each -- and they have a lot of them,” he says. “And there’s all the backend programming that’s required for it too. So this is not a small move, it takes a lot of infrastructure to make this work.”

Still, credit card companies want all retailers to follow Sam’s Club’s lead and adopt the technology by late 2015. 

An Inability To Connect With Horses Isn't Why Racing Is Failing

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:58

There is a perception that Americans would rather play slot machines and watch car racing because those things are more relatable than horses. NPR's Laurel Dalrymple doesn't think that is true.

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For New College Grads, Finding Mental Health Care Can Be Tough

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:50

Finding and paying for a psychologist or psychiatrist can be difficult at any age. But young adults just making their way in the world face particular challenges.

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Business boost in Queen's Speech

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:46
The government announces a series of measures in the Queen's Speech that it says are "unashamedly pro-work and pro-business".

Tiananmen tense on rally anniversary

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:43
Security personnel swamp Tiananmen Square on the 25th anniversary of the Beijing massacre, as memorials are held in Hong Kong and Taipei.

Binman in truck crash gets £1.8m

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:42
A binman whose leg had to be amputated above the knee after his rubbish truck crashed is awarded £1.8m damages from a council.

Day in pictures: 4 June 2014

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:38
News photos from past 24 hours: 4 June

Green opposition to coalition plans

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:35
Environmentalists are opposing the government's plans to boost roads, housing and fracking - all announced as part of the Infrastructure Bill.

Wales sees rise in spending money

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:32
People living in Wales have had the second largest rise in the UK in the amount of money they have to spend, according to the latest figures.

Apology over crashed anti-hack site

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:27
The head of a government-funded cyber-security advice website apologises and says he is "not sleeping" after the site collapsed under heavy traffic.

Hampden Park ready for 2014 Games

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:26
Work is completed to transform Scotland's national football stadium into an athletics venue in time for next month's Commonwealth Games.

​The best starter-coding language? How about English?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:25

Douglas Kiang was tired of having the same types of students in his computer-science class year after year: socially awkward boys.

"I used to only get one or two girls who'd take course," said Kiang, who teaches computer science at Punahou School on Oahu.  

So Kiang took a page from his wife’s teaching manual--she’s a 6th-grade teacher--and gave something called interactive fiction a try.

Think of the famous "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series, where the reader decides what the protagonist does next,  jumping to a new page with each decision.

In online interactive fiction, readers must tell the computer program what they want to do next.  There are common commands that work in most programs, like “put,” “feel,” “take” and “open,” as well as custom commands for different stories.

What does interactive fiction have to do with coding?  Everything, says Kiang,  who has  a Master's Degree in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard.

"One of the core concepts we try to teach is abstraction -- the idea that you take a large idea and break it down into smaller pieces," Kiang said.

To create a story in interactive fiction, you have to figure out how to give the reader a bunch of understandable decisions to make that will allow her to navigate through the story and understand it.  

The same thought process applies to coding.  Say you are building an app to play blackjack: you would need to figure out how to create the card, how to allow the user to hit or stand, how to deal the cards, and a bunch of other tasks.

Kiang has had success with the approach.  Students who have started with interactive fiction more easily pick up actual coding languages, he says.

For technophobes, interactive fiction also has the benefit of being surprisingly low-tech.  It’s nothing but text.  You can see (and play) one of Kiang's student's stories below (hint: try walking south, east or west to start with).

Frozen creators plan stage musical

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:22
The Oscar-winning creators of the animation Frozen are planning a stage musical entitled Up Here, the show's producer says.

NHS 'failing elderly patients'

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:07
The care of frail elderly patients has become fragmented because of the drive for hospital doctors to specialise, the new NHS England boss says.

25 Years After Tiananmen Protests, Chinese Media Keep It Quiet

NPR News - Wed, 2014-06-04 05:04

On the anniversary of the massacre that broke up pro-democracy protests, China is quashing attempts to mention the fateful date, with heavy security and online monitoring.

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Central African Republic bans texts

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:53
Mobile phone text messages are banned in the Central African Republic, a move the authorities say is aimed at restoring security.

Harris groping claims 'ridiculous'

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:48
A brother of Rolf Harris tells court that allegations the entertainer groped a make-up artists are untrue.

Woman killed for resisting molesters

BBC - Wed, 2014-06-04 04:43
A 35-year-old mother-of-four is shot dead by militants for resisting their attempts to molest her in the Indian state of Meghalaya, police say.
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