langelgjm writes "Bringing a lengthy legal battle to a close, New York City's Department of Education will today release detailed evaluation reports on individual English and math teachers as a result of a request under public information laws. The city's teachers union has responded with full page ads (PDF) decrying the methodology used in the evaluations. The court's decision attempts to balance the public interest in this data against the rights of individual teachers. Across the country, a large number of states are moving to evaluate teachers based on student performance in an attempt to raise student achievement in the U.S."
Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive
JumperCable writes "Scientists at Mexico's National Institute of Psychiatry are working on a vaccine that makes the body resistant to the effects of heroin, so users would no longer get a rush of pleasure. The researchers say they have successfully tested the vaccine on mice and are preparing to test it on humans. Mice given the vaccine showed a huge drop in heroin consumption. 'It would be a vaccine for people who are serious addicts, who have not had success with other treatments and decide to use this application to get away from drugs.'"
An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has found that forcing a suspect to decrypt his hard drive when the government did not already know what it contained would violate his 5th Amendment rights. According to Orin Kerr of the Volohk Conspiracy, 'the court's analysis (PDF) isn't inconsistent with Boucher and Fricosu, the two district court cases on 5th Amendment limits on decryption. In both of those prior cases, the district courts merely held on the facts of the case that the testimony was a foregone conclusion.'"
DeviceGuru writes "It's looking like 2012 will be a watershed year for cord-cutters wanting to replace expensive cable TV services with low-cost gadgets that stream movies and TV shows from the Internet via free, subscription, and pay-per-view services. Accordingly, this DeviceGuru smackdown pits five popular streaming media player devices against each other. The smackdown compares Roku, Google TV, Apple TV, the Boxee Box, and Netgear's NeoTV, tabulating their key features, functions, specs, supported multimedia formats, and other characteristics, and listing the main advantages and disadvantages of each device. Then, it provides a summary chart that attempts to quantify the whole thing, so you (theoretically) can pick the best one based on what characteristics are most important to you. Of course, the market's evolving so quickly that the entire process will need to be redone in 6 months, but what else is new."
An anonymous reader writes "In this chat with the originator of the light-saber in Star Wars and the Nostromo in Alien, director Roger Christian argues that the Academy Awards needs a special category for 'best science-fiction film.' It's a thorny subject, since such a new category would inevitably either get lumped in with fantasy/horror or further 'ghetto-ise' the genre. But with 2001 and Avatar snubbed for best picture, among many others over the years, does ANY sci-fi film ever have a shot at Best Picture?"
judgecorp writes "Nordic nations are all pitching for business from data centre owners, based on their countries' excellent network provision, plentiful electricity from renewable sources, and a climate where servers can be kept cool cheaply, using the ambient air temperature, with no need for chillers. A Swedish delegation is visiting California to lure other players to follow Facebook into Sweden. Meanwhile, Iceland now has a new multi-tenant data centre to join the existing Thor site, and Denmark has a container-park data centre for its financial industry."
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Government's peak IT strategy group has issued a cautious updated appraisal of currently available office productivity suite file formats, in what appears to be an attempt to more fully explain its thinking about the merits of open standards such as OpenDocument versus more proprietary file formats promulgated by vendors like Microsoft."
An anonymous reader writes "A look back at two articles from 1995, touting high end computers and 'must haves.' How times have changed... ...'Memory (RAM): We seem to have convinced most manufacturers to adopt eight megabytes as standard, compared with four megabytes in 1994. Don't buy less than eight. The difference in performance between an eight megabyte machine and a four-megabyte machine can be dramatic.'"
Barence writes "PC Pro's Davey Winder has revealed how pre-school children are being targeted by data thieves. Security vendors have uncovered a bunch of Flash-based games, colorful and attractive to young kids, which came complete with a remote access trojan. The trojan is usually installed behind a button to download more free games, but BitDefender even found one painting application where the very act of swiping the paintbrush over an online pet to change the color of the virtual animal was enough to trigger redirection to an infected site."
First time accepted submitter awjourn writes "During his years working in pharma R&D, Tomasz Sablinski was frustrated by the industry's need for secrecy and its utter inability to design patient-friendly drug trials. So he founded Transparency Life Sciences, a company that's developing three drugs based on input from patients and physicians, who log onto the company's site and voice their opinions about how drugs should be designed and tested."
An anonymous reader writes "George Lucas claims there was 'a 50/50 chance' Indiana Jones could survive the atomic blast in Legend of the Crystal Skull by hiding inside a refrigerator. Dr. David Shechner subjects this claim to rigorous peer review, and his findings are not good news for people looking to hide from nukes in appliances."
Damien1972 writes "Conservationists have converted a remote-controlled plane into a potent tool for conservation. The drone — an HK Bixler equipped with cameras, sensors and GPS — has been used to map deforestation, count orangutans and elephants, and get a bird's eye view of hard-to-access forest areas. During their 4 days of testing in Sumatra, the drone flew 30 missions without a single crash. A mission, which typically lasts about 25 minutes, can cover 50 hectares. The drone, full equipped, costs less than $2,000."
kkleiner writes "A new study shows that brain scans can detect autism in children as young as 6 months old. Researchers at University of North Carolina's Institute for Developmental Disabilities imaged the brains of 92 children who were at high risk for autism. Scans were performed when the children were 6 months, 1-year, and 2-years old. At 2 years, the age when children are typically diagnosed, 30 percent of the children were found to have autism. The researchers then compared the brain images of the autistic children with the others. They saw differences in the brain's white matter, the axon-laden pathways that transmit electrical signals to distant parts of the brain. Of the 15 pathways analyzed, 12 were significantly different between autistic and non-autistic children."
hapworth writes "IT professionals were recently outraged to hear that the Smithsonian acquired some code from MIT lecturer VA Shiva Ayyadurai who has convinced no less august pubs than Time Magazine and The Washington Post that he invented email. While objectors howl on forums and message boards, VA Shiva Ayyadurai spoke up today to defend his standing as email's creator, claiming he doesn't regret not patenting it because he doesn't believe in software patents."