Amazing Humans, Robotic Chefs and Internet Explorer 10

Robotic Chef - Like or Dislike?

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Quick News

  • The iPad Mini is out! What’s your opinion? Email geeks@geekspeak.org.
  • Windows 8 has been released. Miles says, “It’s the tablet OS to use but it’s a mess for desktops.”
  • A bug in IOS 6 has been fixed. You can now get updates with a very user-friendly app.

GeekSpeak Radio Show Notes 11-3-2012

In this edition of GeekSpeak Radio on KUSP, hosts Lyle Troxell and Miles Elam comment on timely news stories about the new Internet Explorer 10, amazing kids with laptops in Ethiopia, robot chefs, WWII carrier pigeons and more. Here are notes from today’s show.

Will IE 10 Break the Internet?

The Geeks announce that Internet Explorer 10 will be released later this month. IE 10 is designed especially for Windows 8 but a Windows 7 version will be available too. You can try the new IE 10 now -- but be aware of the Great Cookie Debate.

“Do not track” has become an issue for IE 10. Basically, IE 10 has set “Do not track” as their default. In contrast, other browsers and previous versions of Explorer have taken the other option: Their default is to track, i.e., accept cookies. Which decision is best?

The Geeks debate privacy versus the value of tracking. Lyle asked, “If I see ads on a regular basis, wouldn’t I prefer that they’re relevant to me?” Read more about the issue in the sidebar below.

Segment note: With the release of IE 10, support for Internet Explorer 8 will be dropped on many apps.

Kids in Ethiopia Teach Selves to Read & Hack

New Internet Explorer 10 - The "Do Not Track" Debate

According to the experts at GeekSpeak Radio, here's the problem with IE 10: If you choose “Do not track” in Internet Explorer 10, the Internet could “break.” For instance, if Google chooses to respect your non-tracking flag, then Google Analytics won’t work.

Did you notice the keyword if? Your selection of “Do not track” in any browser is more of a request than a command. Some humans think that tracking is better for you and/or their company. For example, Yahoo has said they’ll ignore the flag. In Yahoo’s words, IE 10’s default “degrades the experience for the majority of users” and “doesn't express user intent.” Apache has also announced that they’ll ignore the IE flag.

Cookies are not inherently evil. For example, when a website that you visit pulls images from another website, a header arrives with your cookie and the request. Thus the site hosting the image receives information about you, even if you haven’t entered into an agreement with them. This isn’t nefarious; it’s just a byproduct of how the web works. Cookies can also “help” you by displaying search results and ads that best fit your history.

On the other hand, cookies collect information that compromise privacy.

Want to weigh in? Comment below or email geeks @ geekspeak.org.

One Laptop per Child Program

Takeaway Message: Humans Are Amazing

What can happen when 1,000 Ethiopian kids receive tablet PCs? This group of children had never read, did not speak English, and received no computer instruction… yet within five months, they mastered the tablet, learned English and hacked Android.

One Laptop per Child (http://one.laptop.org/) is devoted to overcoming the digital divide. The nonprofit has delivered millions of laptop computers to children who would not otherwise get direct experience with computer technology. Although Laptop.org hasn’t reached its distribution goal, its presence has inspired Intel, Netbooks and others -- a whole industry of superlight laptops.

Laptop.org’s latest project is a collaboration with Motorola. The Motorola tablets shown with the children above are solar powered for rural African locales. The tablets are connected with each other although there is no Internet.

In most cases the recipients of laptops receive training – but in one amazing case in Ethiopia, kids assumed complete responsibility for learning. A Laptop.org worker reported:

"We left the boxes in the village. Closed. Taped shut. No instruction, no human being. I thought, the kids will play with the boxes! Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, but found the on/off switch. He'd never seen an on/off switch. He powered it up.

Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs [in English] in the village. And within five months, they had hacked Android. Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera! And they figured out it had a camera, and they hacked Android."

Read more at http://dvice.com/archives/2012/10/ethiopian-kids.php.

WWII Pigeon Found with Message Attached

Source

WWII Carrier Pigeon Discovered in Chimney

Recently the Englishman David Martin found remains of a WWII pigeon in his chimney. The bird still had an encoded message attached to its leg ring! The message’s sender and intended receiver are unknown. The carrier pigeon’s message has been dispatched to codebreakers at UK Government Communications Headquarters. Want to try deciphering it yourself? See the image to the right from SWNS.com.

From Old Tech to New

Today’s episode of GeekSpeak runs the gamut from low to high tech and various permutations. Besides carrier pigeons and solar-powered laptops, Lyle Troxell and Miles Elam also cover:

BioLite Stoves

BioLite stoves not only cook food but also charge electronic equipment. They’ve become popular in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

IBM’s Watson

Robot doctors? IBM is hard at work perfecting Watson, the artificial intelligence Jeopardy! champion, so that it might become a physician’s assistant. This robotic diagnostician will be trained by clinicians and students. Essentially, they will ask it questions to crowdsource the knowledge base. The ultimate goal is for Watson to pass a medical licensing exam – no joke.

A Robot Prepares Salad

While one robot offers diagnoses, another is hard at work in the kitchen. The Geeks wonder if a knife-wielding robot chef is creepy? The conclusion: Not if it moves very slowly -- but how practical is that? Learn more at http://www.geekologie.com/.

Regular People & Programming

Lyle recommends the book Eloquent Javascript to people who have never programmed. He argues that in our society, everybody should learn basic programming along with reading and writing. In his view it’s political: “In a computer world, the people who create algorithms have power. Programs are deciding our fate. We teach everybody math although they won’t all become accountants. People should get a basic level of programming as long as our society is becoming more controlled by apps.”

Miles takes a different stance. “I don’t think that programmers decide the end product.” He sees programmers’ role as analogous to that of ancient holy writers. “Programmers are like the scribes. Scribes weren’t making the law -- they were copying the law.”

What do you think? This debate will be revisited in next week’s GeekSpeak – and it’s a call-in show. 831.476.2800

Donate to GeekSpeak

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Listen Live on Saturdays, 10 a.m. PST

Hear the next episode of GeekSpeak Radio live at www.KUSP.org or on KUSP 88.9 FM in Santa Cruz, CA and on the Central Coast.

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