Monthly Archives: July 2012

The recession hits Harvard…with interesting changes – more money to undergrads, less to books

Harvard isn’t belt-tightening everywhere. Since 2007, its investment in financial aid to undergraduates has risen by more than 78%, which Harvard said is “significantly outpacing increases in tuition.” Undergraduate tuition for the 2012-13 year climbed 3.5% to $54,496.

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As it looks to economize, Harvard has turned some of its attention toward the more than $160 million it spends each year on its nearly 375 year-old library system, which holds 17 million volumes, and includes 73 separate libraries. Widener, the flagship library, alone has 57 miles of shelving.

Harvard is also changing its philosophy on owning books. The goal: Provide access to them rather than collecting each one, which can lead to costs for storage and preservation, a 2009 Harvard task-force report said. The library will extend partnerships to borrow from other libraries, and further digitize its own collection so it can share with others.

The university is finding it “increasingly painful” to manage academic-journal subscriptions, which annually cost it about $3.75 million, Harvard Provost Alan Garber said.

In a move watched throughout academia, Harvard in April urged its faculty members to publish in open-access journals. “Move the prestige to open access,” a memo said.

 

Keep reading: Wall Street Journal - Economy Tests Harvard

 

 

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Snoop Dogg goes to the beach, gives up rap – becomes Snoop Lion reggae-master

In 1993, the debut single “What’s My Name?” catapaulted rapper Snoop Dogg to fame. But if you ask him that question now, he’ll have a different answer. Snoop Dogg changed his name to “Snoop Lion” after a spiritual awakening in Jamaica this February, which he described to reporters at a press conference on Monday.

So, no more D-O-double-G. No more Doggfather or Dogghouse or“Woof!” — which, presumably, will be replaced with a roar. Snoop Lion has been working on a reggae album, ”Reincarnated,” the recording of which is being chronicled in a documentary film that premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Snoop told reporters that he was rechristened Snoop Lion by a Rastafarian priest.

“I want to bury Snoop Dogg, and become Snoop Lion,” he told reporters, according to news.com.au. “I didn’t know that until I went to the temple, where the High Priest asked me what my name was, and I said, ‘Snoop Dogg.’ And he looked me in my eyes and said, ‘No more. You are the light; you are the lion.’ From that moment on, it’s like I had started to understand why I was there.”

 

The first single, La La La, from the album Reincarnation:

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Romney campaign release ‘Mitt’s VP’ smartphone app – instantaneous alerts for VP choice

Mitt Romney’s campaign announced Tuesday that supporters can sign up to be the first to learn of the presumptive Republican nominee’s vice presidential choice by downloading a new smartphone app.

“The first official way to learn the name of the Republican vice presidential candidate is by using our new ‘Mitt’s VP’ app,” said Romney digital director Zac Moffatt in a statement. “Users of the app will be the first to get the news on the biggest political decision of the year through an instantaneous alert on the one device most people carry around the clock — their phone.”

The app will push a notification to supporters’ phones instantly after the name is released from Romney headquarters, and allow users to share and comment on it across a variety of social networks. The application will be free on both the iPhone and Android operating systems.

The approach is the evolution of a 2008 move by the Obama campaign that sent a text message to supporters announcing the selection of now-Vice President Joe Biden.

 

Source: The Hill - Romney campaign to announce VP selection via smartphone app

 

 

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Obama campaign launches iPhone app, Obama for America – 100 days till the election

With the 2012 election less than 100 days away — 98 days, to be exact — Team Obama is giving its supporters, volunteers and voters a digital push. The president’s campaign and the Democratic Party have launched Obama for America, a mobile app that packs election information, grassroots organizational tools, campaign news and more into a single package.

Instead of developing another photo-sharing app with ready-made templates, the Obama campaign has opted to create a much more focused get-out-the-vote tool.

Keep in mind, however, that the app is tailored toward people who already support the 44th U.S. president. This is most decidedly not a non-partisan effort.

“As we push through the last 100 days of this election, our focus remains on helping make grassroots organizing as easy and accessible as possible for the volunteers and supporters that are the heart and soul of this campaign,” Stephanie Cutter, Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama for America, told Wired in an email. “That’s why we designed our new app to help break down the distinction between online and offline organizing, giving every supporter the same opportunities to get involved that they would find in a field office.”

Toward this goal, the app includes sections called…

 

Keep reading: Wired - Obama Campaign Launches iOS App to Support Re-Election Effort

 

 

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As Digg rebuilds – thinks differently & innovates by scoring all shares – tweets, likes, and diggs

The early Digg was brilliant and honest and democratic. Each digg was a vote and each vote counted towards the ultimate objective: moving a story closer and closer to the top position on the Digg homepage.

Today, we vote on Facebook with every share and on Twitter with every tweet, and conversations take place across loads of different sites, apps, and networks. So how do we surface “what the Internet is talking about,” when the Internet is talking beyond the walls of Digg.com? We tear down the walls. When we launch v1, users will continue to be able to digg stories, but Digg scores will also take into account Facebook shares and tweets. Roll over any Digg score to see the breakdown. We’re excited to see how this new data can help us identify the best stories on the web.

Here’s an early wireframe of the new Digg score:

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The hilarious South Korean hip hop video, Gangnam Style – best music video of the year?

 

Park Jae Sang, better known in his homeland as PSY, is a South Korean hip hop artist who is “popular underground due to his sense of humor and unique concerts,” according to Wikipedia.

The Berklee College of Music graduate recently released “Gangnam Style” — his first single in two years — and the music video that accompanies it is a thing to behold.

One Redditor-in-the-know offered this illuminating commentary on what it all means:

From what I understand, Gangnam is the fancy schmancy rich part of Seoul. The video is making light of him singing about what a classy dude he is while screaming at yoga butts and dancing in garages and junk.

 

Source: Gawker - Did This Underground Hip Hop Artist from South Korea Just Release the Best Music Video of the Year?

Reforms in foster care showing good results – children in foster care drops for 6th straight year

The number of U.S. children in foster care has dropped for the sixth straight year, falling to about 400,000 compared to more than 520,000 a decade ago, according to new federal figures demonstrating the staying power of reforms even amid economic turbulence.

The drop results primarily from a shift in the policies and practices of state and county child welfare agencies. Many have shortened stays in foster care, expedited adoptions and expanded preventive support for troubled families so more children avoid being removed from home in the first place.

The average length of stay in foster care has been reduced by more than 10 percent since 2002, according to the report. The mean stay is now 23.7 months.

Of the children in foster care as of Sept. 30, 52 percent were boys. Twenty-one percent were Hispanic, 27 percent black and 41 percent white; 104,236 of them were available for adoption.

 

Source: The Washington Post - Number of children in foster care drops for 6th straight year, to 400,000, despite hard times

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Twitter now has more than half a billion accounts worldwide

A milestone for Twitter today, according to the Paris-based analyst group Semiocast. The social network has now passed the half-billion account mark — specifically 517 million accounts as of July 1, 2012, with 141.8 million of those users in the U.S., still about half as many users as Facebook has but positioning it as the second-biggest social networking site.

And just as most of Twitter’s users are coming from outside the U.S., so are the tweets: the top three cities in terms of tweets, it says, are Jakarta, Tokyo and London.

 

Source: TechCrunch - Analyst: Twitter Passed 500M Users In June 2012, 140M Of Them In US; Jakarta ‘Biggest Tweeting’ City

 

 

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Next Apple event for iPhone 5 set for September 12 – maybe also for iPad mini

iMore has learned that Apple is planning to debut the new iPhone at a special event on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, with the release date to follow 9 days later on Friday, September 21. This information comes from sources who have proven accurate in the past.

The iPad mini will be announced at the same September 12 event, as will the new iPod nano. We haven’t heard a release date for the iPad mini yet, but it could be the same as the iPhone 5. It seems likely the new iPod touch will make an appearance on September 12 as well, though we haven’t heard any specific information about that yet either.

Last year, the iPhone 4S was announced on Tuesday, October 4, 2011, and released 10 days later on October 14. The event included minor updates to the iPod line, notably a white iPod touch 4. This year, the iPad 3 was announced on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, and released 9 days later on March 16. The event included a 1080p Apple TV.

 

Source: iMore - Apple iPhone 5 and iPad mini event planned for September 12, iPhone 5 release date for September 21

 

And, one more rumor from 9to5 Mac about a new iPad:

Finally and probably most controversial, Apple will be updating its full sized iPad line with a thinner design less than a year after release. The new, new iPad design will be tweaked with a new back side mic and a less hot thinner design.

 

 

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Peter Jackson turns The Hobbit into three films – explained in his own words

From a post by Peter Jackson in Facebook:

 

It is only at the end of a shoot that you finally get the chance to sit down and have a look at the film you have made. Recently Fran, Phil and I did just this when we watched for the first time an early cut of the first movie – and a large chunk of the second. We were really pleased with the way the story was coming together, in particular, the strength of the characters and the cast who have brought them to life. All of which gave rise to a simple question: do we take this chance to tell more of the tale? And the answer from our perspective as the filmmakers, and as fans, was an unreserved ‘yes.’

We know how much of the story of Bilbo Baggins, the Wizard Gandalf, the Dwarves of Erebor, the rise of the Necromancer, and the Battle of Dol Guldur will remain untold if we do not take this chance. The richness of the story of The Hobbit, as well as some of the related material in the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, allows us to tell the full story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the part he played in the sometimes dangerous, but at all times exciting, history of Middle-earth.

So, without further ado and on behalf of New Line Cinema, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Wingnut Films, and the entire cast and crew of “The Hobbit” films, I’d like to announce that two films will become three.

It has been an unexpected journey indeed, and in the words of Professor Tolkien himself, “a tale that grew in the telling.”

Cheers,

Peter J