Computer Science Now a Core Subject in Chicago Schools

Chicago has a history of making large moves with the latest technology. From installing cables to help avoid power cuts to trains with no drivers, Chicago doesn’t want to stop there and has now become the first state that recognises Computer Science as a core subject.

Computer science is a debated subject, with pressure from governments and companies to help boost people’s knowledge of the technology they use every single day. Chicago public schools will now consider the classes as a core requirement, meaning that the 107 schools in the state which currently teach the course will be only the start.

In order to make sure the Computer Science course is there to help, the school district is working with not just companies but also Code.org, the group behind the hour of code initiative. With President Obama putting aside around $4 billion to help fund computer science courses across the U.S., and personally learning to write some code, Computer Science is quickly becoming more than an idea for schools.

With governments and companies like Apple running classes, it is quickly becoming clear that the need for people to understand not just how to use computers, but how they work and what they do is growing as we use more technology on an everyday basis. Combine that with schools opening up eSports courses to help promote teamwork and logical thinking, sometimes you almost wish you were back in school.

Breathtaking Images From an Astronaut Aboard the ISS

Space has always provided a glimpse into many a fascinating world over the years, from research that has been undertaken by NASA to the Astronauts who have boarded the International Space Station as well as successfully landing on the moon. One such Astronaut, Scott Kelly, has been posting breathtaking images on social media that have included Twitter (1,158 photos and counting) and Instagram (684 posts and counting) during his yearlong visit to the ISS, below is a snapshot of these images.

The first image represents the massive blizzard passing over Chicago on Saturday 23rd January 2016, the image looks awe-inspiring.

The next image below is of what is known as “thundersnow” from the blizzard and was captured, again, on the 23rd January 2016.

The next image below, wow, is of an aurora and was captured on the 27th August 2015, this looks akin to a science fiction film.

The next image below is of Spain, well, more specifically Barcelona and was captured on the 28th July 2015, this is both a stunning and a detailed image.

The next image below is the Astronauts latest Twitter post as of writing (26th January 2016) and has the caption “Day 304. That’s 4,864 orbits a’round’ our beautiful planet #Earth. #GoodNight from @space_station! #YearInSpace”, it is certainly a brilliant image.

The last image is of Scott Kelly undertaking a Q&A on Reddit from space, well, yes, as you do, this image was posted on the 23rd January 2016

Illinois State Police to Utilize “Unmanned Aircraft”

Federal Aviation Administration has authorized Illinois State Police to fly unmanned aircraft that would comply with federal standards for a two-year term. The police department is intentionally using the word “unmanned aircraft” instead of “drone” because “it carries the perception of pre-programmed or automatic flight patterns and random, indiscriminate collection of images and information.”. They are planning to be using it to speed up and enhance assessment of traffic crashes and crime scenes.

The ability to obtain accurate measurements and clear images from aerial photographs will significantly reduce the amount of time highways are closed during the initial investigation of major traffic crashes,” ISP said.

The Illinois General Assembly passed the “Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act,” which prohibits the use of drones in the state with a number of exceptions. Allowed conditions were limited to investigate crime scenes and traffic crashes in public areas and more.

“One of the concerns was always that a drone is an incredibly powerful tool to see into areas that police couldn’t otherwise see in,” “It’s used to follow someone at a relatively low-cost and extended period of time. And that’s exactly why the legislature passed it and the governor signed the bill. I think this shows the wisdom of that decision,” Spokesman of American Civil Liberties Union, Ed Yohnka said.

Thank you MyFoxChicago for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Ars Technica.

Chicago to Install New Cable That Can Prevent Power Outages

Nobody likes a power cut, they’re annoying and can cause a heck of a lot of problems in a major city such as Chicago. They can be caused by a whole number of factors, extreme storms, terrorism, faulty cables or human error just to name a few. There hasn’t been a solution of preventing power outages before and now the Obama administration wants to strengthen electricity infrastructures everywhere.  So as a result of this, Commonwealth Edison is soon to be laying down a superconductive cable system parallel to the current cable system that’s already underneath Chicago’s business center, the Loop.

The new cable is capable of carrying 10 times the amount of power than the current cables which is a huge benefit. Using these wires will enable the middlemen between the power plants and customers to redirect electricity around Chicago and the Loop if a substation has gone down, pretty cool right?

This particular project was funded with $60 million from the Department of Homeland Security, although the total cost will be much higher. The makers of the cable, American Superconductor, are also in negotiations with two more utilities.

Thanks to The Verge for supplying us with this information.

Images courtesy of Time.

New Microsoft CEO Announced, Satya Nadella To Steer The Wheel

Microsoft officially announced the company’s new CEO, Steve Ballmer’s successor, after a long-awaited selection period. Satya Nadella, former Microsoft VP of Cloud and Enterprise group, joined Microsoft in 1992, having a pretty interesting background.

Mr. Nadella, age 46, was born in India and studied electrical engineering at the Mangalore University. He the moved to the US where he studied a master’s degree in Computer Science at the University of Winsconsin, followed by a Business Administration degree at the University of Chicago. A former Sun Microsystems employee, he joined Microsoft and worked on the Windows NT operating system, having been familiar with UNIX 32-bit systems at his former working place.

His career at Microsoft continued to advance, becoming VP of R&D for the Online Services Divisions, vice president of the Microsoft Business Division and most recently as president of Microsoft’s Server and Tools Business where he led a transformation and major shift to cloud infrastructure and services. Nadella is now the third Microsoft CEO, having Bill Gates stepping down as chairman and becoming a technical advisor. His place is now effectively taken by John Thompson, who was heading Microsoft’s CEO search committee.

Microsoft has been receiving customer criticism for a long time due to their slow evolution of its Windows and Office products. On the other hand, Microsoft continues to take the lead in the PC market, where most of its profits come from, as well as having the entertainment sphere, Xbox, and the cloud division as a profit maker as well. Mobile products such as Windows Mobile and handsets running the OS or web products such as Bing search engine have been long-shots for Microsoft, as other brands and companies were there first to take the crowd away.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Tech Spot

New Reports Say The Moving Train In The Chicago Train Crash Had No Driver

The Chicago train crash which took place yesterday injured dozens of passengers after a stationary train loaded with passengers was hit in the rear by an empty train moving at about 20 miles per hour. New reports suggest that the moving train was indeed totally empty – not even a driver was onboard. The train moved along empty for about half a mile unnoticed, before plunging into the back of another train.

President of the CTA rail workers union, Robert Kelly, said he couldn’t believe this was a technological malfunction because the train needs to have a universal key for the cab door to be opened, then a second key to operate the master controller. Without a driver the train has the friction brakes activated which keeps it stationary and even if the power to the train’s engine is turned on a human operator is required to release the brakes.

The CTA say that to prevent a runaway train “dead man controls” are equipped as a fail safe. The dead man controls essentially require the driver to always have his hand pulling down the handle on the master controller which allows the breaks the remain released and the dead man switch to remain off. As soon as that handle is released (e.g it would be if there was no driver) then the engine shuts off and breaks are applied. However, in this case it appears that did not happen. Officials remain unsure whether the incident was a result of a mechanical failure or a crime.

Officials have also questioned why additional fail-safes, such as automatic break application for speeding or being on the wrong track/route, did not work. A preliminary review says there are no signs of an operator in control or signs of forced entry or vandalism.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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Image courtesy of the IBTimes