When the cloud fails: Why universities went public anyway

The recession changed everything for higher education, including IT spending. But are universities trading in privacy for lower costs? asks ZdNet. The failure of the Amazon cloud and slow recovery of the web service over the past day has questioned the increasing reliance on the cloud, and whether regardless of backup systems and distributed datacenters, can in fact the cloud be innately trusted to provide the highest of uptime? Several prominent websites fell foul of Amazon’s cloud failure, including Foursquare, Reddit and Quora, when a datacenter in northern Virginia hit networking errors. However, universities, often with vast IT resources host their own solutions and services from the very heart of their campuses, have shifted from a private cloud to a public cloud approach; like Amazon’s or Microsoft’s competing platform…

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Samsung sues Apple on patents

Samsung Electronics Co. said Friday it filed patent infringement lawsuits against Apple Inc. in Seoul, Tokyo and Germany, in apparent response to Apple’s suit against it over trademark issues in the U.S. earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Samsung lawsuits don’t directly respond to the Apple suit. Instead, they accuse Apple of violating patents covering cellphone transmission technologies. The legal skirmish is one of a dozen or so prominent cases that have emerged in recent months over the rapidly growing smartphone market…

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After balking, Yale switches to Gmail

Fifty-three percent of Yale students already forward their university messages to Gmail.

More than a year after Yale University technology officials delayed the school’s adoption of Google’s Apps for Education, citing privacy and security concerns, the campus has announced students and faculty will use Gmail and a host of other Google programs by 2012.

Yale was among several high-profile universities that hesitated to move students and faculty to the cloud-based eMail system, which would move data off the campus and onto Google servers.

Read more about Google Apps in higher education…

Claim: Google Apps for Education inaccessible to blind students

Higher ed still prefers Gmail over competitors

Some Yale faculty members expressed concern that Google’s data centers were environmentally unfriendly, leaving a large carbon footprint that some on campus opposed.

“This will be a huge improvement for students, who will benefit not only from a better web-based eMail client, but also from the entire suite of Google Apps for Education,” Chuck Powell, associate CIO for operations, said in an April 18 announcement.

Yale will join more than 200 colleges and universities that use the free Gmail as their official eMail service.

IT officials expect to make Google Apps available to students by the end of the 2012-13 school year, the university announced. Besides eMail, the Yale’s Google suite will include video chat, online calendars, and document storage.

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Al Franken, Ed Markey press Steve Jobs on iPhone tracking

Freaked out that your iPhone may be tracking your every move? So are Senator Al Franken and Representative Ed Markey, who have called on Steve Jobs to explain the situation, the Huffington Post reports. Researchers found that iPhones and iPads track and record users’ locations by latitude and longitude, sometimes hundreds of times a day, for up to a year, storing the file in an unencrypted format on the device.

“Anyone who gains access to this single file could likely determine the location of a user’s home, the businesses he frequents, the doctors he visits, the schools his children attend, and the trips he has taken-over the past months or even a year,” Franken wrote in his letter to Steve Jobs…

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Online education may transform higher ed

Can online education be the rock that disturbs the placid waters of American higher education? Several industry experts believe it will have a significant ripple effect on colleges and universities of all sizes in coming years–but only if it’s subject to regulation, governed by a common set of accreditation standards, and widely accepted by institutions who have long clung to the traditional face-to-face model of instruction, says U.S. News & World Report

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App maker: Don’t just play on your smartphone–study, too

Students in 20 countries use Watermelon Express.

When Ashish Rangnekar wasn’t studying for his business school entrance exam, he played games, perused websites, and checked eMail on his iPhone. Now he – and 75,000 other students – can do both simultaneously.

Rangnekar is the cofounder of Watermelon Express, an application available for the iPhone, iPad, and desktop computer that helps students prepare for high-pressure exams such as the GMAT, GRE, LSAT, and SAT using game-playing features, competitions with peers, and analytics showing precisely where students need to improve.

Watermelon Express uses reams of educational and test-prep content from books and open-source websites to create questions for seven subjects.

“There’s a lot of content out there, but when you interact with it, you realize how one-dimensional it really is,” said Rangnekar, who passed the GMAT and is now a student at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “So we start from where [publishers] leave off.”

Bringing study questions to the smartphone screen students glance at every few minutes has caught on in the educational app marketplace. CrushThatTest, an app launched last year, has free digital flashcards as a supplement to students’ textbooks in nine subjects, ranging from U.S. history to psychology.

“I realized I spent too much time on my iPhone just sort of playing around — not the best use of a student’s time,” Rangnekar said. “I knew it would be valuable if I could study on my iPhone … so there was no big vision to begin with. I just wanted to make the engagement part less restrictive.”

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Roommate charged with hate crime in NJ webcam case

Clementi's body was recovered Sept. 29 in the Hudson River.

A former Rutgers University freshman who prosecutors said used a webcam to spy on his roommate’s same-sex encounter was charged April 20 with a hate crime and accused of deleting tweets and texts to cover up his tracks.

Dharun Ravi, 19, was indicted in Middlesex County on 15 counts including bias intimidation and invasion of privacy in events that predated the suicide of 18-year-old Tyler Clementi, who in death started a national conversation on the perils of bullying.

Ravi had already faced invasion of privacy charges along with another Rutgers student, Molly Wei. It took prosecutors months to present their case to a grand jury alleging that Ravi targeted Clementi because of his sexual orientation and tried to broadcast the encounter online to intimidate his roommate.

The cascade of events started the day Ravi “learned the name of his roommate,” Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said in a statement, not elaborating. The charges do not link the alleged spying to Clementi’s suicide.

“The grand jury indictment spells out cold and calculated acts against our son, Tyler, by his former college roommate,” Clementi’s parents, Jane and Joe Clementi, said in a statement. “If these facts are true, as they appear to be, then it is important for our criminal justice system to establish clear accountability under the law.”

The indictment is an important step in a heartbreaking case, state Attorney General Paula Dow said.

The state’s hate crime law “recognizes the terrible harm caused by acts of bigotry and hatred and imposes harsher punishment on those who commit such crimes,” Dow said.

If convicted of the most serious bias charge, Ravi could face five to 10 years in prison.

Kaplan said charges against Wei weren’t presented to the grand jury. It was unclear Wednesday whether a case against Wei would go before a grand jury or whether she helped prosecutors in the case against Ravi.

An attorney for Ravi did not return a call seeking comment, and Wei’s attorney declined to comment.

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Kindle books to be loaned from libraries later this year

Amazon said Wednesday that its popular Kindle e-reader will allow customers to borrow Kindle books from more than 11,000 U.S. libraries starting later this year, reports Computerworld. That feature has been possible with the Barnes and Noble Nook device since that device’s launch; its absence on Kindle, and with Kindle books read on other devices, has rankled many book enthusiasts, including librarians, who offered online book reading for years…

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iPhone software tracks location of users

Apple’s iPhone software is storing a record of the travels of iPhone owners on their phones and on the computers used for iPhone synchronization, a practice that has renewed privacy concerns about mobile location tracking, InformationWeek reports. The data, consisting of latitude and longitude coordinates and corresponding timestamps, is stored unencrypted and, apparently, without conspicuous notification. Apple did not respond to a request to explain whether any of its user agreements cover this practice…

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Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. blames iPad for American unemployment

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) addressed the United States’s current unemployment crisis and claimed the iPad was “probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs,” The Huffington Post reports. Jackson, himself an iPad owner, expanded on his statement by pointing to the recent bankruptcy of Borders Books. “Why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes and Noble? Just buy an iPad and download your book, download your newspaper, download your magazine,” the Congressman said. He also cited Chicago State University’s initiative to replace textbooks with iPads for freshman students.

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