To skip or not to skip? New web site helps students decide

Skip Class has seen an increase in page views since redoing the web site in August.
Skip Class has seen an increase in page views since being revamped in August.

Jim Filbert considered billing his web site, Skip Class Calculator, as the online tool that enraged every college professor in America. But that wouldn’t be entirely accurate.

Skip Class Calculator, which launched in February and was revamped in August, gives students a 10-question formula that calculates the risk of skipping a class lecture.

The calculator asks how many days a student had already skipped, their current class grade, the date of the class’s next test or quiz, and a host of other questions.…Read More

Universities use tool to battle student ID theft

Data security crimes jumped by 47 percent from 2007 to 2008.
Data security crimes jumped by 47 percent from 2007 to 2008.

College students have to know which data are most vulnerable before they can protect their Social Security numbers, passwords, and online banking personal identification numbers. The creators of a new software program that fights identity theft say it can do just that—and some of the most respected universities are listening.

Identity Finder, a tool now marketed free of charge to college students, thoroughly scans a computer’s internet browser, files, eMail, attachments, and a range of other programs to find information that would prove most vulnerable to hackers.

The program isolates these bits of information and gives students options for how to secure each item: removing them piece by piece, scrubbing irrelevant data, or encrypting sensitive files for safe storage.…Read More

‘Global volunteer computing’ leads to scientific discovery

Networked computers can act in concert to form a virtual supercomputer to perform very large tasks.
Networked computers can act in concert to form a virtual supercomputer to perform very large tasks.

Ordinary computers like those folks use to send eMail or surf the internet are being credited with finding a previously unknown neutron star, highlighting the changing nature of research in the era of grid computing.

Home office computers in Ames, Iowa, and Mainz, Germany, were cited Aug. 12 in the discovery of fast-rotating pulsar called PSR J2007+2722.

It was the first scientific discovery for the project, known as Einstein@Home, which uses spare computer power donated by 250,000 volunteers in 192 countries, according to Bruce Allen, director of the effort.…Read More