Can a computer program take the bias out of bail?

WASHINGTON—One client was charged with murder. One client was charged with sexual abuse. Both were poor. Brenda Popplewell, a veteran Kentucky defence lawyer, went to court in each case and asked the judge to set bail low enough for the men to afford. Until recently, she probably would have lost. Neither man had a history of crime. But judges had ... Read More »

A beautiful algorithm? The risks of automating online transactions

The online ad that led you to your new favorite pair of shoes might seem innocuous, but according to University of Virginia Associate Professor of Economics and Computer Science Denis Nekipelov, the algorithms behind such ads could lead to an unforeseen financial crash – something he hopes his research will prevent. Nekipelov’s study of the automation of online advertising, co-authored ... Read More »

United Airlines flights resume after worldwide ground stop

Customers in United Airline’s Terminal 1 faced long lines after all flights were grounded Wednesday morning. | Tim Boyle/For the Sun-Times All United Continental flights in the U.S. were temporarily grounded Wednesday morning due to computer problems. The FAA said at 9 a.m. that an automation problem had been resolved and that it had given United the all-clear to begin ... Read More »

Marjan van Aubel’s “stained glass window” harvests solar energy to charge mobile phones

This window by Dutch designer Marjan van Aubel is made up from coloured solar cells that harvest energy from the sun and convert it into electricity to charge small computer devices. The organically dyed solar cells in van Aubel’s Current Window generate electricity from the sun – a process derived from photosynthesis, which plants use to convert sunlight into energy. Sunlight is collected within the orange, blue ... Read More »

When journalists take a vacation, do they actually take a break?

I found out about the guacamole and the pea incident four days after The New York Times tweeted about it. That’s not like me. I’m typically on top of the news cycle and keep tabs on the general zeitgeist of what’s important on the Internet. But last week, I went on vacation — for the first time in a long time. And ... Read More »

Buttons, sliders and knobs, oh, my! Startup evolves PC controls beyond the mouse

When it comes to controlling personal computers, keyboards and mice are the reigning champions. A startup called Palette, though, thinks photographers and other creative types will embrace hardware that offers even more direct control. Palette’s “tactile controller” products, available now for ordering and due to ship this November, let people magnetically snap together a cluster of buttons, knobs and sliders ... Read More »

BBC to give free micro:bit computer to every 11-12 year old in the UK

Projects like Arduino and the hugely popular Raspberry Pi have helped thousands take their first steps into programming and the subject continues to become more accessible. The BBC has unveiled the new BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized computer which will be given away for free to every child in year 7 across the UK. The tiny computer is designed to help ... Read More »

Charged waters

A 21-year-old man was out for an evening swim near a dock several weeks ago when he felt electricity in the water. He grabbed the dock ladder to get out of the water, was shocked and fell face-down back into the water. Marcus Colburn became a victim of electric shock drowning Sunday, June 21, in Missouri. ESD causes death and ... Read More »

Your idle computer could help scientists study the drought

Your idle computer could help scientists run a program that’ll shed light on the factors behind the drought. The project, backed by climate researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Oxford, is hoping to tease out what role greenhouse gases and ocean temperatures play in creating dry spells like the one currently gripping California. Over the last two ... Read More »

Second Harvest feeds local families in need

There’s local help available for families in the area struggling to get enough to eat. Friendship Church in Prior Lake, 17741 Fairlawn Ave., partners with Second Harvest to provide a free surplus food and household products for households in need. The items are distributed starting at 5:30 p.m. at Friendship Church on the second Thursday of every month. Registration for ... Read More »