MySpace, apps share user IDs with advertisers

MySpace has been sharing with its advertisers data that can be used to identify user profile pages, but the company doesn’t consider that to be a problem, reports the Associated Press. The company said it did not consider the data to be information that could identify a person, partly because MySpace doesn’t require members to use their real names. The social networking site acknowledged transmitting information to advertisers that included a user ID and the last page viewed before a user clicked on an ad. MySpace issued the statement following a report in The Wall Street Journal on Friday disclosing the sharing. The Journal and MySpace are both owned by News Corp. The Journal also said some MySpace applications developed by outside parties had been sharing user IDs in violation of MySpace’s terms of use…

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Intel ups the ante with bets on social gaming

Intel appears to be on a determined, if not somewhat puzzling, spending spree, the New York Times reports. In August the company acquired McAfee, the security software vendor, for nearly $8 billion. Then, the company bought the unit of Infineon that makes the wireless chips used in laptops and smartphones such as the iPhone. On Oct. 21, the investment arm of the company, called Intel Capital, said it is making an investment in OpenFeint, a mobile gaming platform that lets developers add social-networking features, like real-time chat, to their applications. Lisa Lambert, vice president of Intel Capital, said the company was looking to “to build software ecosystems around our platforms. That is a huge part of our strategy over all.”

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Sharp scaling back on laptops to focus on tablets

Sharp is scaling back its laptop PC operations and will focus resources on its recently announced Galapagos tablet PC and mobile terminals, PC World reports. The move comes as Sharp looks to change its business model from one of just selling hardware to offering devices with companion content services. “Our intention is to shift from just selling the product to expand to the business model of contents services business in addition to eBook product sales,” said Miyuki Nakayama, a Sharp spokeswoman. The December launch of the Galapagos tablet will be Sharp’s first test of this new model. The Android-based device, which comes in 5.5-inch and 10-inch screen models, will launch with a domestic eBook and eNewspaper store that will feature about 30,000 titles. Sharp plans to later expand the content to include music, video and add other eCommerce services. Sharp is already in talks with Verizon Wireless on a U.S. launch, but precise plans for markets outside of Japan are yet to be announced…

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Report: Degrees for young blacks, Hispanics flat-lining

Minority students have made gains in recent years, but African-American and Hispanic enrollment has stagnated.

Minority students have made gains in recent years, but African-American and Hispanic enrollment has stagnated.

The number of college degrees earned by Hispanics and blacks in their 20s and 30s has stagnated over the past decade, according to a report on minorities in higher education that claims today’s college-aged students are no better educated than Baby Boomers.

The report, “Minorities in Higher Education 2010,” was released Oct. 20 by the American Council on Education (ACE) and cites statistics gathered across higher education starting in the late-1990s. The report highlights a persistent “racial/ethnic gap” in colleges and universities despite minority gains.

The minority college enrollment stagnation is “a troubling development that will impact the ability of the country to compete in a global marketplace,” the report says.

Enrollment rates for blacks, for example, jumped from 22 percent in 1998 to 34 percent in 2008. Hispanic college enrollment had the smallest gains over that same period, rising from 17 percent to 28 percent, according to the report, which used data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau.

American Indians, according to the report, had the lowest enrollment rates at 24 percent. Asian Americans had the top enrollment rates, with 63 percent.

Mikyung Ryu, assistant director of ACE’s Center for Policy Analysis and author of the report, said educational barriers for the 47 million Hispanics living in America have “received little attention in higher education policy” over the past decade.

ACE’s report points to placement in low-wage, unskilled jobs, lack of English fluency, and interrupted schooling during immigration as some of the factors that affect Hispanics’ struggle to reach higher levels of college enrollment and degree attainment.

“Current debates around increased educational attainment or economic sustainability don’t seem to recognize the opportunity this key subgroup may represent,” Ryu said.

The past decade has seen a consistent rise in minority students on college campuses. The white student population shrunk from 68 percent to 59 percent over that time, and the minority student population rose from 25 to 30 percent, according to the report.

Much of that minority growth occurred at two-year colleges, where 36 percent of students were minorities. Twenty-six percent of enrollees at four-year colleges and universities were minorities.

The report confirms other research showing women outperforming men in higher education. In 2008, four in 10 women 25-34 had at least an associate degree. Three in 10 men of the same age range had at least an associate degree.

The ACE report says that “the strides made by women are mostly driven by Asian-American and white women.”

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Early action could aid in admission, report finds

It is a question on the minds of so many high school seniors at this time of year: How can you raise your chances of getting into your No. 1 college choice? A report released Oct. 20 by an association of guidance counselors and admissions officers could be worth a look. It provides new evidence for those who believe that applying to college early in the academic year — or, more specifically, submitting applications under binding early-decision programs — increases the likelihood of acceptance, the New York Times reports. Nearly three of every four students who applied last year under such programs, which are offered by many of the nation’s most selective colleges, were accepted, compared with just over half who applied to the same colleges in the main application round, according to the annual report, “The State of College Admission,” by the National Association for College Admission Counseling…

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City sets deal With Microsoft

Microsoft Corp. will provide New York City with an array of computer services under a five-year agreement announced Oct. 20, a coup for the tech giant in its race against Google Inc. for municipal contracts, the Wall Street Journal reports. The agreement, unveiled at a City Hall news conference by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will consolidate all previous agency-by-agency service arrangements with Microsoft into a single citywide contract. The agreement is expected to save the city $50 million over five years. The previous arrangement “was complicated, cumbersome and needless to say not very cost effective,” said Mr. Bloomberg. “The economic downturn forces governments and companies to look and see whether what they’ve been doing is really necessary and to see if they can do those same things better or less.”

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Critics urge FCC to forget net neutrality

Telecom policy experts say it is time for the Federal Communications Commission to put Net neutrality issues to rest so that the agency can move on to addressing other items on its agenda, such as implementing the National Broadband plan, CNET reports. A representative from AT&T was joined by former FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and other policy wonks on a panel at the 4G World trade show to discuss the FCC’s progress on implementing the National Broadband Plan. Robert Quinn, senior vice president of regulatory affairs for AT&T, said progress on achieving goals set out in the plan presented to Congress earlier this year have been painfully slow. “We are frustrated at the slow progress,” he said. “The Broadband Plan does a good job of isolating the problems, but now there are rule-making proceedings spread over the next 18 months. And we have no idea when these will turn into real rules.”

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Universities commit to open-access journal movement

College students could have greater access to scholarly journals if open-source efforts gain momentum.

College students could have greater access to the academic research in scholarly journals if open-access efforts gain momentum.

A dozen major universities have signed a pact to make academic research available free of charge online and forgo the pricey subscriptions to scholarly journals that can cost campuses tens of thousands of dollars annually, creating barriers for professors’ research to be widely read.

Duke University on Oct. 3 became the latest American campus to sign the Compact for Open Access Publishing Equity (COPE), an effort first introduced by Stuart Shieber, a computer science professor at Harvard University and director of Harvard’s Office for Scholarly Communication.

Nine U.S. universities have signed the pledge to “recognize the crucial value of the services provided by scholarly publishers” and underwrite “reasonable publication charges” that could make it feasible for faculty members to submit research articles to the open-access program.

The American schools that have signed COPE are Harvard, Duke, Cornell, Columbia, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California Berkeley, Dartmouth College, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the University of Michigan.

For scholarly journals that require subscriptions, the cost of publishing is covered by subscriptions. For an open-access model, however, universities and colleges will have to cover those costs.

Duke, like other universities that have signed the compact, established a fund that will cover the costs of publishing academic research, according to the university library’s web site. Duke will dole out up to $3,000 a year to cover scholars’ article processing fees, and unused funds cannot roll over to the next year.

Other campuses, such as MIT, limit reimbursements to $1,000 per article, regardless of the number of researchers credited with the work, according to an MIT announcement.

Peter Lange, Duke’s provost, said that by joining elite schools that have signed the pledge, Duke hopes to “support the university’s commitment to promoting openness as an important value in scholarship” and help create a sustainable model that isn’t accessible only to individuals and campuses willing to shell out thousands every year for subscriptions to scholarly journals.

“Increased open access means more opportunities for the research of our faculty and researchers to reach a wide audience and have a meaningful impact on the world,” Lange said in a statement.

Duke’s fund for supporting open-access research materials won’t be open to “hybrid” publishers that don’t charge readers only when publication fees have been paid for, but regularly use the traditional subscription model otherwise.

The University of Calgary became the latest school to sign the COPE pledge Oct. 18. The university’s commitment is one of a series of efforts to make scholarly journals available to the public free of charge.

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In a digital age, students still cling to paper textbooks

They text their friends all day long. At night, they do research for their term papers on laptops and commune with their parents on Skype. But as they walk the paths of Hamilton College, a poster-perfect liberal arts school in this upstate village, students are still hauling around bulky, old-fashioned textbooks — and loving it, The New York Times reports. “The screen won’t go blank,” said Faton Begolli, a sophomore from Boston. “There can’t be a virus. It wouldn’t be the same without books. They’ve defined ‘academia’ for a thousand years.”  Though the world of print is receding before a tide of digital books, blogs and other Web sites, a generation of college students weaned on technology appears to be holding fast to traditional textbooks. That loyalty comes at a price. Textbooks are expensive — a year’s worth can cost $700 to $900 — and students’ frustrations with the expense, as well as the emergence of new technology, have produced a confounding array of options for obtaining them.  Internet retailers like Amazon and Textbooks.com are selling new and used books. They have been joined by several Web services that rent textbooks to students by the semester. Some 1,500 college bookstores are also offering rentals this fall, up from 300 last year. Here at Hamilton, students this year have a new way to avoid the middleman: a nonprofit Web site, created by the college’s Entrepreneur Club, that lets them sell used books directly to one another.

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Princeton endowment posts nearly 15% rise

Princeton University’s endowment earned nearly 15% for the year ended June 30, besting returns at some Ivy League rivals, the school said Friday, according to The Wall Street Journal. Princeton’s return outperformed both Yale University and Harvard University in the same period, at 8.9% and 11%, respectively. It also outpaced the 13% increase that investment-consulting firm Wilshire Associates reported was the median return of other large endowments, pension funds and foundations. The returns on Princeton’s $14.4 billion endowment, one of the nation’s largest, still trailed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which rose 19% in the same period. In a statement, Princeton Provost Christopher Eisgruber said the endowment’s performance, combined with recent school budget cuts, has prevented the need for additional cuts in school spending. Princeton’s performance, released Friday, is a big turnaround from the previous year, when the endowment posted an investment loss of 24%.

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