A supercomputer built by the Chinese government has retained its place at the top of a list of the world’s most powerful systems, the BBC reports. Tianhe-2 can operate at 33.86 petaflop/s – the equivalent of 33,863 trillion calculations per second – according to a test called the Linpack benchmark. There was only one change near the top of the leader board. Switzerland’s new Piz Daint – with 6.27 petaflop/s – made sixth place. The Top500 list is compiled twice-yearly by a team led by a professor from Germany’s University of Mannheim……Read More
A rural broadband group planning to offer superfast net services in Oxfordshire has been told that the project cannot go ahead, the BBC has learned. A similar project in Dorset was turned down last month. It comes just weeks after a report criticised the government for wasting taxpayers’ money by giving all of its broadband funds to BT. Those involved are angry that BT will monopolise rural broadband rollouts. Both Oxfordshire and Dorset county councils have signed contracts with BT to provide broadband services to rural areas. These contracts mean that alternative schemes are no longer required. Having competition in the broadband market is important, think experts……Read More
An inner city primary is at the heart of a project to test how technology can be used to boost children’s learning, the BBC reports. Rosendale Primary, in south London, won a £253,000 grant for the research which will involve 1,400 pupils in 24 schools in London, Essex and Manchester. Rosendale pupils use tablet computers to photograph their work and tag it with notes about how well they learned. The Lambeth school’s head teacher, Kate Atkins, says the aim is to help pupils develop a range of learning strategies. “Poor learners are often over-confident about the power of their memories and can struggle to find alternative strategies……Read More
A 10-year experiment that started with Indian slum children being given access to computers has produced a new concept for education, reports the BBC. Professor Sugata Mitra first introduced children in a Delhi slum to computers in 1999. He has watched the children teach themselves—and others—how to use the machines and gather information. Follow-up experiments suggest children around the world can learn complex tasks quickly with little supervision. “I think we have stumbled across a self-organizing system with learning as an emergent behavior,” he told the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Global conference. Mitra’s work began when he was working for a software company and decided to embed a computer in the wall of his office in Delhi that was facing a slum. “The children barely went to school, they didn’t know any English, they had never seen a computer before, and they didn’t know what the internet was.” To his surprise, the children quickly figured out how to use the computers and access the internet. He has repeated the experiment in many more places with similar results, observing children teaching each other how to use the computer and picking up new skills. One group in Rajasthan, he said, learned how to record and play music on the computer within four hours of it arriving in their village. In Cambodia, he left a simple math game for children to play with. “No child would play with it inside the classroom. If you leave it on the pavement and all the adults go away then they will show off to one another about what they can do,” Mitra said……Read More
In the spending cuts unveiled by the coalition government this morning, one victim will have stood out for the IT community, says the BBC. British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta), the quango which promotes the use of technology in schools, is to close, saving £65m next year. That means 240 jobs will go, and there will need to be a rethink of just how the huge program to put computers and other technology into the classroom is organized. So will Becta be missed? A few months back, I wrote here about the disquiet felt by some teachers about the Building Schools for The Future program and in particular its ICT budget. The concern was that the program was far too inflexible, with schools often ending up with out-of-date and expensive technology and not having the freedom to choose what they wanted, rather than what some bureaucrat felt they needed. That’s not all the fault of Becta, of course, but it has been criticised for being captured by technology suppliers and failing to keep up with trends like the use of open-source software.…Read More
A new type of malware infects computers using file-share web sites to download pornography and publishes the user’s internet history on a public web site before demanding a fee for its removal, reports the BBC—and of the virus’s victims is reported to be a school headmaster in Japan. The virus, which originated in Japan, installs itself on computers using a popular file-share service called Winni, used by up to 200 million people. It targets those downloading illegal copies of games in the Hentai genre, an explicit form of anime. The web site Yomiuri claims that 5,500 people have so far admitted to being infected. The virus, known as Kenzero, is being monitored by web security firm Trend Micro in Japan. One of Kenzero’s victims is reported to be a school headmaster in Japan. Masquerading as a game installation screen, it requests the PC owner’s personal details. It then takes screen captures of the user’s web history and publishes them online in the user’s name, before sending an eMail message or pop-up screen demanding a credit card payment of to “settle your violation of copyright law” and remove the web page……Read More
British academic institutions have unwittingly become the accomplices of criminals selling fake drugs online, reports the BBC: A security firm has discovered many organizations using the “.ac.uk” education domain are unknowingly pushing customers to web sites offering the fake pills. The scam exploits software flaws to piggyback on the computing resources of the colleges and universities. Researchers at security company Imperva believe “thousands” of organizations in the U.K. might have fallen victim.
“It’s a pretty successful campaign,” said Amichai Shulman, of the firm, which uncovered the targeted attack. Imperva has found that many higher-education institutions that use the “.ac.uk” domain are unknowingly helping customers get through to the spammers’ sites. In most cases, the spammers have exploited vulnerabilities in a widely used technology called PHP. Many organizations use this technology to make web sites more interactive. “They used these vulnerabilities to inject PHP code into the site,” said Shulman of the scam. The injected code included search terms associated with drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and many others. Also included was code that spotted when a visitor arrived at a compromised site from Google. When combined, the code meant that when a person searched for the drugs online, the universities’ web addresses would pop up in the top results. Anyone clicking on the link would then be re-directed to a fake pharmacy peddling counterfeit pills. At all other times, a visitor would get through to the proper site. Typing in a web address also would lead straight to the real site…