Study: Cox internet subscribers also blocked

Comcast Corp.’s interference with internet traffic has prompted a federal investigation and is at the center of calls for "net neutrality" laws, but another U.S. cable company appears to be doing the same thing without drawing scrutiny, the Associated Press reports. A study released May 15 found conclusive signs that file-sharing attempts by subscribers of Cox Communications were blocked, along with customers at Comcast and Singapore’s StarHub. Of the 788 Comcast subscribers who participated in the study, 62 percent had their connections blocked. At Cox, 54 percent of subscribers examined were blocked, according to Krishna Gummadi at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Saarbruecken, Germany. The institute examined the network connections of 8,175 internet subscribers around the world. Philadelphia-based Comcast is the country’s second-largest internet service provider, with 14.1 million subscribers. Atlanta-based Cox Communications is the fourth-largest, with 3.8 million…

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Philly won’t fight to save Wi-Fi network

The city of Philadelphia is moving on after its brief municipal Wi-Fi relationship with EarthLink, no longer trying to find a way to keep the network up and running, PC World reports. EarthLink announced on May 13 that it will shut down the network and remove the approximately 4,300 access nodes spread across Philadelphia. It said the decision followed months of negotiations with the city and nonprofit organizations aimed at handing over the $17 million network for free so it could keep running. EarthLink started pulling out of the municipal Wi-Fi business last year. The city government isn’t talking to EarthLink or doing anything else to save the network, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter said May 14. This was in contrast to a statement on May 13 by Wireless Philadelphia, a group that provides low-cost access to the network for disadvantaged residents, that said the group and the city were together trying to find ways to preserve the network…

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New web site’s goal: safety for kids

Montana’s attorney general and state superintendent of schools unveiled a web site May 14 aimed at keeping children safe from online scams and predators, the Billings Gazette reports. The site, www.safeinyourspace.org, gives advice to parents, teachers, and kids on a host of internet safety considerations, such as how to identify and report online predators and what to do if other kids bully your child online. Attorney General Mike McGrath, whose agency will maintain and update the site, said the idea is not to discourage kids from using the internet, but to focus on preventing crimes before they occur. "We need to send the message that the internet is a good thing," he said. "But you need to talk to your kids, com

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Woman indicted in MySpace suicide case

In a case that sends a strong message about the possible consequences of cyber bullying, a federal grand jury on May 15 indicted a Missouri woman for her alleged role in perpetrating a hoax through the online social network MySpace against a 13-year-old neighbor who subsequently committed suicide.

Lori Drew of suburban St. Louis allegedly helped create a false-identity MySpace account to contact Megan Meier, who thought she was chatting with a 16-year-old boy named Josh Evans. Josh didn’t exist.

Megan hanged herself at home in October 2006 after receiving cruel messages, including one stating the world would be better off without her. (See "Studies suggest cyber bullying is on the rise.") Salvador Hernandez, assistant agent in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, called the case heart-rending.

"The internet is a world unto itself. People must know how far they can go before they must stop. They exploited a young girl’s weaknesses," Hernandez said. "Whether the defendant could have foreseen the results, she’s responsible for her actions."

Drew was charged with one count of conspiracy and three counts of accessing protected computers without authorization to get information used to inflict emotional distress on the girl.

Drew has denied creating the account or sending messages to Megan.

U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien said this was the first time the federal statute on accessing protected computers has been used in a social-networking case. It has been used in the past to address hacking.

"This was a tragedy that did not have to happen," O’Brien said.

Both the girl and MySpace are named as victims in the case, he said.

MySpace is a subsidiary of Beverly Hills-based Fox Interactive Media Inc., which is owned by News Corp. The indictment noted that MySpace computer servers are located in Los Angeles County.

FBI agents in St. Louis and Los Angeles investigated the case, Hernandez said. Each of the four counts carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.

Drew will be arraigned in St. Louis and then moved to Los Angeles for trial.

The indictment says MySpace members agree to abide by terms of service that include, among other things, not promoting information they know to be false or misleading; not soliciting personal information from anyone under age 18; and not using information gathered from the web site to "harass, abuse, or harm other people."

Drew and others who were not named conspired to violate the service terms from about September 2006 to mid-October that year, according to the indictment. It alleges they registered as a MySpace member under a phony name and used the account to obtain information on the girl.

Drew and her co-conspirators "used the information obtained over the MySpace computer system to torment, harass, humiliate, and embarrass the juvenile MySpace member," the indictment charged.

After the girl killed herself, Drew and the others deleted the information for the account, the indictment said.

Last month, an employee of Drew, 19-year-old Ashley Grills, told ABC’s Good Morning America that she created the false MySpace profile, but Drew wrote some of the messages to Megan.

Grills said Drew suggested talking to Megan via the internet to find out what Megan was saying about Drew’s daughter, who was a former friend.

Grills also said she wrote the message to Megan about the world being a better place without her. The message was supposed to end the online relationship with "Josh," because Grills felt the joke had gone too far.

"I was trying to get her angry so she would leave him alone and I could get rid of the whole MySpace [hoax]," Grills told the morning show.

Megan’s death was investigated by Missouri authorities, but no state charges were filed because no laws appeared to apply to the case.

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MySpace

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Index reveals what kids are searching for online

What are students searching the web for most frequently while at school? Turns out, it’s math games, animals, and historic figures and events, according to an unscientific index of the 15 most popular in-school search terms released by Thinkronize Inc.

The index is taken from Thinkronize’s netTrekker d.i., a child-safe educational search engine reportedly used in some 20,000 schools worldwide. From February through April of this year, "games" was the No. 1 search term on the site, followed by "dogs," "animals," "Civil War," and "George Washington." The total number of unique search terms during this period was 1,844,677.

"Search engines such as Google and Yahoo pull together lists of the most popular keyword queries, underscoring our nation’s interests and fixations and showcasing trends and patterns," said Thinkronize CEO Randy Wilhelm. "Our report offers a different view: a real-time, school-based mirror of what our children are searching for–both for academic purposes and out of genuine curiosity."

Here’s the full list:

1. Games
2. Dogs
3. Animals
4. Civil War
5. George Washington
6. Holocaust
7. Abraham Lincoln
8. Multiplication
9. Math Games
10. Weather
11. Frogs
12. Fractions
13. Planets
14. Sharks
15. Plants

Overall, the list focuses most heavily on math, science, and history search terms. Search terms for multiplication, math games, and fractions are especially noteworthy in light of the National Math Panel’s report recommending an increased focus on multiplication and fractions .

"When you look at the top 10, considering that 20 percent of it is games, I think that’s really interesting, and I think it’s speaking to students and teachers angling their interests more towards digital curriculum and digital content," Wilhelm said.

"I really think it says, ‘I want something more than what I’m getting from my [textbook].’"

Added Wilhelm: "We have these kids who are digital natives, and that’s their world, and then we bring them into a classroom that is the exact opposite."

Thinkronize plans to release its list of the top educational search terms each quarter. Wilhelm said he’s not sure what changes to expect from quarter to quarter. As time passes, the index might reveal a pattern reflecting what is taught in schools at certain points during the year.

Wilhelm did say he expects to see games remain on the list, because of the abundance of educational games available to students.

"The index will show us trends in digital [content] delivery," he said.

The search terms also might help educators learn what topics prompt students to search for additional information online, perhaps owing to outdated textbooks.

For example, Wilhelm said, a search of the planets online reveals that Pluto is no longer a planet–but the science texts in a school might be several years old, and there might be no immediate plans to update those texts, so students would have to turn to the internet for information about Pluto’s reclassification. 

"We are really interested in trends and patterns [of internet use in schools], and I think this [index] will work out well," he said.

Link:

netTrekker d.i.

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the “ Creating the 21 st Century Classroom ”resource center. Preparing today’s youth to succeed in the digital economy requires a new kind of teaching and learning. Skills such as global literacy, computer literacy, problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, and innovation have become critical in today’s increasingly interconnected workforce and society–and technology is the catalyst for bringing these changes into the classroom. Go to Creating-the-21st-century-classroom

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South Carolina students to get low-cost laptops

South Carolina is joining the Birmingham, Ala., school system in implementing low-cost laptops from the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child initiative here in the United States, reports the Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C. Thousands of South Carolina children have limited access to computers, but education officials hope to change that through a statewide campaign launched May 12. The goal of the One Laptop Per Child/South Carolina initiative is to put laptop computers in the hands of elementary-age students statewide. Organizers kicked off the effort with an announcement in rural Marion District 7, where nearly 500 elementary school students in two schools will receive the laptop computers in a pilot program. The $100,000 pilot was paid for with private funding and is a partnership between the South Carolina Department of Education and the nonprofit Palmetto Project. The goal is to expand the program to every school district in South Carolina. The laptops were developed by One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit organization dedicated to designing, manufacturing, and distributing inexpensive laptop computers to children across the globe. Charleston entrepreneur Phil Noble worked with One Laptop Per Child founder Nicholas Negroponte to bring the program to South Carolina–and other places, such as Birmingham, Ala., and New York City, are trying to start a program similar to the one here…

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Virtual schools see strong growth–and calls for more oversight

The Christian Science Monitor reports that enrollment in online classes last year reached the 1 million mark, growing 22 times the level seen in 2000–and a new paper by the Hoover Institute predicts that by 2019, half of courses in grades 9 to 12 will be delivered online. But there’s little research assessing the quality of these programs, which some experts say don’t have enough official oversight. Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, "you have to have high standards, tight oversight, scrutiny over what teachers are doing. Yet on the other extreme, also promoted by the federal government, are these loosely accountable approaches to schooling," says Luis Huerta, a professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College who has researched virtual schools for more than a decade. Even some supporters of online learning say education officials need to provide more guidance. Some states allow online Advanced Placement courses; some don’t. Ditto for requiring lab work in science courses. The inconsistencies stunt the online model’s growth, says David Reed, a researcher at Arizona State University in Tempe…

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Green Light Awards

This program focuses on both representational and abstract work. Artwork may illustrate actual aspects of what signals the applicant’s creative motivations, such as the physical world or personal discoveries. Abstract work that relates to feelings or emotions is also encouraged. Work might also reflect experience of living with a disability and its role in shaping or transforming work.

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CVS Caremark Charitable Trust Grants

The CVS Caremark Charitable Trust focuses primarily on supporting charitable organizations that are making a difference in the lives of children with disabilities. Resources are also allocated to help support organizations focused on providing healthcare to the uninsured.

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