Shared posts

18 Dec 00:00

What the Sony hacks reveal about the news industry


David Uberti, Columbia Journalism Review, Dec 19, 2014

If traditional newspapers won't cover the Sony leaks, then Gawker and Buzzfeed will. And if Gawker and Buzzfeed won't, then someone else will step forward. This changes the role of journalists in a manner that might be instructive to educators: "The new role of journalists, for better or for worse, isn’ t as gatekeepers, but interpreters: If they don’ t parse it, others without the experience, credentials, or mindfulness toward protecting personal information certainly will." I would feel more sorry for Sony weren't for its decades-long history of user-hostile business practices, up to and including the famous  rootkit incident, in which Sony hacked their customers' computers. I do feel more sorry for Seth Rogan, though I don't like his movies a lot.

[Link] [Comment]
18 Dec 19:20

torontodesign: architectian: Concrete #trainstation #brutalism...

by counti8



Concrete #trainstation #brutalism #engineering #architecture #transit #ttc #toronto #blacknwhite #bnw #ig

Concrete Classic

18 Dec 19:04

An Update on Flickr Wall Art

by Matthew Roth

We’re sorry we let some of you down.

About a month ago, we introduced Flickr Wall Art to allow our members to order printed photos on wood or canvas. Over the past few weeks, we’ve received a lot of feedback from the community and beyond — while some expressed their excitement about the new photography marketplace and the value it would bring, many felt that including Creative Commons-licensed work in this service wasn’t within the spirit of the Commons and our sharing community.

We hear and understand your concerns, and we always want to ensure that we’re acting within the spirit with which the community has contributed. Given the varied reactions, as a first step, we’ve decided to remove the pool of Creative Commons-licensed images from Flickr Wall Art, effective immediately. We’ll also be refunding all sales of Creative Commons-licensed images made to date through this service.

Subsequently, we’ll work closely with Creative Commons to come back with programs that align better with our community values.

The Wall Art service will continue to be available, but will not tap into Creative Commons-licensed images. You’ll still be able to order Wall Art from your own photostream, as well as the work of Flickr’s licensed artists, who are part of the Flickr Marketplace. If you want your work to appear in the Flickr Marketplace, you can sign up here to be considered and a member of the Flickr curation team will reach out if your work is a good fit.

From the beginning, we’ve worked hard to foster a community of creators. It’s our deep commitment to the Flickr community that inspires us everyday. Please continue to share your ideas and feedback.

Bernardo Hernandez
VP of Flickr

18 Dec 00:00

Flickr removes CC-licensed photos from Wall Art program


Ryan Merkley, Creative Commons, Dec 19, 2014

I can't say that I'm surprised there was an outcry, and I hope people now understand what the CC-by license allows. The Creative Commons blog states, "Our vision is one where content of all kinds is freely available for use under simple terms, where the permissions are clear to everyone. If that doesn’ t happen, creators can feel misled or cheated, and users are left uncertain if they can use the commons as a source of raw material." I would content that this is exactly what happened, and that the promotion of the CC-b y license as somehow "more free" fostered exactly this sort of misunderstanding.

[Link] [Comment]
18 Dec 00:00

Khan Academy founder has two big ideas for overhauling higher education in the sciences


Gregory Ferenstein, Venture Beat, Dec 19, 2014

So let's have fun talking about why these would never work: "Sal Khan has a few ideas for how to radically overhaul higher education. First, create a universal degree that’ s comparable to a Stanford degree, and second, transform the college transcript into a portfolio of things that students have actually created." OK, to be fair, I think that he does point to some things that are broken in today's system of education related to articulation and credentials. But I don't think anyone (except Khan) believes there should be a single standard degree, much less a Stanford degree. And a moment's reflection will reveal the search and intelligence problem that results when grades are replaced with portfolios; how will an employer find what was formerly a BA from a slew of portfolios? The discouraging thing is that the business press and VCs take this level of thinking seriously.

[Link] [Comment]
18 Dec 20:33

Technical Problems Are The Easy Ones

by Eugene Wallingford

Perhaps amid the daily tribulations of a software project, Steven Baker writes

Oy. A moving goal line, with a skeleton crew, on a shoestring budget. Technical problems are the easy ones.

And here we all sit complaining about monads and Java web frameworks...

My big project this semester has not been developing software but teaching beginners to develop software, in our intro course. There is more to Intro than programming, but for many students the tasks of learning a language and trying to write programs comes to dominate most everything else. More on that soon.

Yet even with this different sort of project, I feel much as Baker does. Freshmen have a lot of habits to learn and un-learn, habits that go well beyond how they do Python. My course competes with several others for the students' attention, not to mention with their jobs and their lives outside of school. They come to class with a lifetime of experience and knowledge, as well some surprising gaps in what they know. A few are a little scared by college, and many worry that CS won't be a good fit for them.

The technical problems really are the easy ones.

18 Dec 23:30

Group A Or Group B? Contrasting Groups To Persuade People To Join

by Richard Millington

Here's a simple tip to persuade people to join any type of group.

Highlight what the group isn't. 

This latches upon two key aspects of psychology.

The first is people understand any object better when it's contrasted with another. I don't know if Car A is good by itself, but I can tell if it looks better than Car B. If it does, Car A seems good. 

The second is we tend to see things in good/bad dualities. We see most choices as a choice between something good and something bad. 

You can influence members to see joining the community as a choice about who they are and what values they hold (or want to hold) Are they group A or group B type of people?

If they're not Group B, they must be Group A. This is known as self-categorisation in social identity theory.

We are far more likely to categorise as part of a group when a contrasting group is made salient. If they're not one of them, they want to be one of you. 

So highlight who the community isn't for. Don't be patronising, simply highlight the type of people who wouldn’t be a good fit for the community. It might be people that are new to the field, people that have specific beliefs, people that don't match a prototypical member.

You don't even have to make group B sound terrible, just make sure Group A is slightly better. 

We spend too much time explaining who the community is for (usually everyone, sadly) and too little time explaining who it's not for. 

18 Dec 23:29

Nokia denies reports that it will stop support for HERE Maps on Windows Phone

by Jane McEntegart

Microsoft bought Nokia’s devices and services divisions but HERE, the company’s location and mapping division, wasn’t included in that package. That’s why we’ve seen HERE hit Samsung devices like the Gear S, the Galaxy lines of smartphones, and any other Android smartphone thanks to its recent Play Store debut. Nokia has said that iPhone version is forthcoming.

It’s clear Nokia is eager to get HERE on as many platforms as possible now that it doesn’t have to develop exclusively for Windows Phone. However, this week, reports surfaced that Nokia was actually planning to ditch Windows Phone development completely.

Windows Central points to this report in DigiToday that cites Udo Szabo as saying Microsoft will be responsible for the development of HERE Maps for Windows Phone. Szabo is director of product marketing for HERE and was quoted as saying the company’s goals have changed since Nokia doesn’t make phones anymore. The translated quote from this Finnish-language publication reads:

“When did Nokia phones, our goal was slightly different. Now we are developing applications on the basis of a realistic market. Microsoft will pay our maps license fees and is responsible for application development.”

Nokia has commented on the reports that it will no longer support HERE on Windows Phone and says that isn’t true. However, it failed to specifically address the comments made by Szabo about Microsoft taking over development.

“We have noticed some discussions in the blogosphere about HERE on Windows Phone,” Nokia said on its official blog. “We want to clarify that we are committed to providing great products and consumer experiences for Windows based phones. We will continue to support our HERE apps to ensure that they will be compatible with future versions of Windows.”

HERE Maps for iPhone is expected early in 2015.

19 Dec 03:00

Enhancing torture by the CIA

by Joe Rivera
The US Senate Report on the use of torture by the CIA in interrogating alleged terrorist suspects underscores the problem of identifying the responsibility of both the Executive and Congress over the state’s apparatus for gathering intelligence necessary in its war against terrorism. It’s not only the brutal methods employed by the CIA that are highly disturbing but also the Report’s absence of finding or acknowledgment of culpability beyond the pay grade of the CIA operatives conducting those investigations.

Senate Intelligence Committee chair Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
talks to reporters after coming out of the Senate in Washington on
December 9, 2014. Reuters Photo
In addition to the finding that the CIA’s interrogation techniques were more brutal and employed more extensively than the agency portrayed, the Torture Report also brings out two other significant points: one, that the interrogation program was mismanaged and lacked adequate oversight, and two, that members of Congress and the White House were misled by the CIA about the effectiveness and extent of its brutal interrogation techniques.
The question to ask therefore is: Who are the authors or leading officials who presided over the CIA’s regime of torture? Whether it was its intention, the Senate Report did not address who ultimately must bear the political responsibility for torture.
Like the Nazi criminals during the Nuremberg Trials, US top leaders—Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and Senate Intelligence Committee chair, Diane Feinstein— have pleaded “we didn’t know,” “we were misled,” and “the CIA didn’t tell us.”
If a similar Nuremberg Trial were convened today to prosecute those responsible for the CIA’s reign of torture, no judge would believe what these leaders say. There is no international court of law that would even be slightly persuaded by these pleas of ignorance of the CIA’s decade-long practice of torture. After all, former US Vice President Richard Cheney, one of President Bush’s unabashed architects of American aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, even lauded the CIA practice of torture on television and boasted he would implement the same policies again.
After 9/11, torture has been the method of choice as revealed by top military officials during the Abu Ghraib investigation. During the administration of President Bush, Jr., CIA leaders submitted detailed reports on intelligence, including the sources and the methods of obtaining the information routinely—with videos and ‘live feeds’ for the politicians to view. Nothing was “held back” then and now, as current CIA head John Brennan testifies. Everyone who attended high-level national security meetings knew how intelligence was obtained, and if they failed to ask it was because torture was accepted as the normal operating procedure.
Pleading ignorance is not a valid and winning argument. Former Vice President Cheney is more reckless in admitting his preference for the use of torture in ferreting out information from captured prisoners of war. During Cheney’s appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, he was asked if the Geneva Convention applies to this type of situation.
Cheney replied: “Sure there is. But remember, the terrorists were not covered by the Geneva Convention. They were unlawful combatants. And under those circumstances, they were not entitled to the normal kinds of courtesies and treatment you would accord to those.”
But the Geneva Conventions, a group of four international treaties covering different aspects of how civilians, prisoners of war and soldiers are to be treated once they are rendered incapable of fighting, guarantee a certain level of protection for former combatants, including prisoners of war and civilians. They set out in detail the requirements for food, clothing, shelter, safety from combat, access to medical care, and other matters.
US soldiers escort a detainee to his cell at Guantanamo Bay
Naval Base. Reuters Photo.

These fighters qualify for these protections if they adhered to some basic rules of law such as wearing uniforms, carrying arms openly, answering to a chain of command, and not committing war crimes. Many of those who were detained in Guantanamo Bay and other sites were from non-state terrorist groups and did not adhere to these rules. These are the unlawful combatants whom Cheney refers to and were not guaranteed the same protections afforded prisoners of war.
Is Cheney right?
There is in fact a distinction in the level of protection afforded under the Geneva Conventions, for those who receive extensive protections and those who do not. While detainees who do not have POW status don’t get the top level protection, they get more basic protections from the Geneva Conventions which would have shielded them against some of the brutal and harsh treatments mentioned in the Senate report.
Article 3, which is common and identical in all of the four Geneva Conventions, prohibits “violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture” as well as “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”
Besides, the United States Supreme Court in its ruling in Hamsdan vs. Rumsfeld, a watershed case on detainee rights, has already ended the debate on Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. The Supreme Court made it completely clear, that whatever their status is, detainees are entitled to some minimal protections under the Geneva Conventions. Such ruling is binding law in the United States, no matter what Cheney says.
Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions as one source of basic protection for detainees is also bolstered by other international agreements as well. Article 75 of the Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions includes minimal protections for all people, whatever their status, who are caught in a conflict. Two other international agreements to which the United States is a party, the 1984 Torture Convention and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, also prohibit torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
In a more critical assessment of the Senate Torture Report, i.e., beyond the sheer brutality of the enhanced interrogation techniques employed by the CIA, James Petras, Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, wrote: “The Senate Report is an exercise in institutional power—a means for the Senate to regain political turf, to rein in CIA encroachment. The Report goes no further than to chastise “inappropriate” techniques: it does not proceed from crimes of state to prosecute officials responsible for crimes against international and domestic laws.”
“We know, and they know, and as every legal authority in the world would know, that without the punishment of political leaders, torture will continue to be an integral part of US imperial policy: Impunity leads to recidivism.”
The grim reality is that the Senate Torture Report will not result in a radical shift in CIA interrogations because to the United States, the war on terrorism can never be left to erring on the side of caution to maintain a level of respect for law and human rights. Torture will always be necessary, even though it is not the official policy, in gathering information that could prevent loss of or harm to human life. Those who rely on torture will always find a ticking time bomb to justify its use.
Such justification for the use of torture was in the heart of Israel’s Supreme Court ruling in 1999, holding that interrogators can employ torture to extract information if it prevents a bombing, and has now earned currency among the CIA and White House lawyers.
As the tempest in the teapot continues to boil over the Senate Torture Report, don’t expect resignations, let alone prosecutions and trials. Worldwide indignation may be heard but the US government will never be held to answer for its use of torture.
The CIA operates under the notion that international law and Geneva Conventions have to be modified, or at the very least, be interpreted generously to allow enhanced interrogation techniques even if by their nature they constitute acts of torture.
Torture should not be universally condemned and its practitioners be prosecuted: this is a core belief that the CIA relies upon for as long as it provides useful information in preventing terrorists accomplish their objectives. Such is what is expected of an imperial power like the United States, and nothing less.
To paraphrase James Petras, the only way for torture to disappear is when politicians are put on trial for their crimes against humanity. “Only when the empire is transformed back to a republic: where impunity ends, justice begins.”
23 Nov 18:45

HOWTO: Home and neighborhood security

My family once acquired first-hand experience in home security, neighborhood security, civil & criminal stalking injunctions, the police, the courts and the broader legal system.

Justice prevailed in the end for my family, but it was a harrowing introduction to a facet of society with which I had little experience.

A DropCam turned the tide in our struggle.

Recently, I found myself at a neighborhood security meeting after a spate of break-ins, and I ended up recounting how my old neighborhood banded together, protected itself and cleaned up the block.

To avoid repeating myself, I’m writing down what I learned.

Disclaimer: This is based on our personal experience in my city, and with the U.S. legal system. Please take caution when applying this advice to other crimes and jurisdictions. Consulting a lawyer is advised.

Click here to read the rest of the article

18 Dec 19:01

Equational derivations of the Y combinator and Church encodings in Python

I love the Y combinator and Church encodings.

Every time I explain them, I feel like I’m using sorcery.

I’ve written posts on memoizing recursive functions with the Y combinator in JavaScript and on the Church encodings in Scheme and in JavaScript.

When I spoke at Hacker School, I used Python as the setting in which to derive Church encodings and the Y combinator for the first time.

In the process, Python seemed to hit a sweet spot for the explanation: it’s a popular language, and the syntax for lambda is concise and close to the original mathematics.

I’m distilling the technical parts of that lecture into this post, and in contrast to prior posts, I’m taking a purely equational reasoning route to Church encodings and the Y combinator – all within Python.

In the end, we’ll have constructed a programming language out of the lambda calculus, and we’ll arrive at the factorial of 5 in the lambda calculus, as embedded in Python:

(((lambda f: (((f)((lambda f: ((lambda z: (((f)(((f)(((f)(((f)(((f)
(z)))))))))))))))))))((((((lambda y: ((lambda F: (((F)((lambda x:
(((((((y)(y)))(F)))(x)))))))))))((lambda y: ((lambda F: (((F)((lambda x:
(((((((y)(y)))(F)))(x)))))))))))))((lambda f: ((lambda n: ((((((((((((
lambda n: (((((n)((lambda _: ((lambda t: ((lambda f: (((f)((lambda void:
(void)))))))))))))((lambda t: ((lambda f: (((t)((lambda void: (void)))))
))))))))((((((lambda n: ((lambda m: (((((m)((lambda n: ((lambda f:
((lambda z: (((((((n) ((lambda g: ((lambda h: (((h)(((g)(f)))))))))))
((lambda u: (z)))))((lambda u: (u)))))))))))))(n))))))) (n)))((lambda f:
((lambda z: (z)))))))))((lambda _: ((((lambda n: (((((n) ((lambda _: ((
lambda t: ((lambda f: (((f)((lambda void: (void))))))))))))) ((lambda t:
((lambda f: (((t)((lambda void: (void))))))))))))) ((((((lambda n: 
((lambda m: (((((m)((lambda n: ((lambda f: ((lambda z: (((((((n) ((lambda
g: ((lambda h: (((h)(((g)(f)))))))))))((lambda u: (z)))))((lambda u:
(u)))))))))))))(n)))))))((lambda f: ((lambda z: (z)))))))(n)))))))))
((lambda _: ((lambda t: ((lambda f: (((f)((lambda void: (void)))))))))))
))((lambda _: ((lambda f: ((lambda z: (((f)(z)))))))))))((lambda _: (((
(((lambda n: ((lambda m: ((lambda f: ((lambda z: (((((m)(((n)(f)))))(z)
))))))))))(n)))(((f) ((((((lambda n: ((lambda m: (((((m)((lambda n:
((lambda f: ((lambda z: (((((((n) ((lambda g: ((lambda h: (((h)(((g)(f)
))))))))))((lambda u: (z)))))((lambda u: (u)))))))))))))(n)))))))(n)))
((lambda f: ((lambda z: (((f) (z))))))))))))))))))))))))(lambda x:x+1)(0)

Run the above in your Python interpreter. It’s equal to 120.

As a bonus, this post is a proof that the indentation-sensitive constructs in Python are strictly optional.

Read below for more.

Click here to read the rest of the article

18 Dec 21:58

I'm Sure It's a Great Language for Writting a Compiler

David Owens: Static Wins! RAH RAH!

"Seriously, someone asks for the functionality for dynamic dispatch and you say you can do the same thing with static code! No, you cannot. You can mimic the behavior.

"Instead, you showed someone how to build a static registration table. Then you make the statement that it’s “type-safe” while using Any as the arguments to the public API for dispatch and using type coercion… that’s not type-safety. And let’s be honest, it’s really not that different then the validation one does for dynamic dispatch either."

Via Michael Tsai.

12 Dec 21:34

5 Rules Of Email Etiquette


As mobile applications such as WhatsApp and iMessage take over our personal lives, we naturally start using memes, acronyms and emoticons to communicate with friends and family. It’s totally fine sending messages like these to friends and family, but as most know, the workplace is an entirely different story.

Unlike personal emails or instant messaging, when you respond to work emails you’re also representing the company you work for. Here we’ll highlight 5 common mistakes people make when sending out business-related emails. 

1. Don’t use crayons


Business emails are meant to be simple, clean and to the point. Every once in a while we come across an email that contains flashing images, text written in more colors than you can find on a rainbow, and the overuse of capital letters.

Stick to black font unless there’s something urgent that requires attention. If that’s the case, a simple hack to get your recipient’s attention is to bold key phrases. Excessive use of CAPS is not recommended. Nobody likes being yelled at, even over email.



Notice something missing after “2.”? That’s right, it’s left blank. Rather confusing wouldn’t you say? Leaving subject lines blank in emails is extremely unprofessional, and provides the recipient no point of reference to what’s inside.

Writing a subject line makes it easier for the recipient to search for your emails later, and allows them to quickly glance at their inbox and judge from the subject if it needs their attention right away or not. Plus, if you’re using SaneBox, you can filter emails by subject.

3. Don’t start email wars


Sometimes the daily grind can really take its toll and a great way to release some of that stress is by writing an aggressive email to someone, or replying to one yourself. Colleagues or business associates can be very upfront and rude in emails when behind a computer screen, making you aware of any mistakes made whether they involved you or not.

Don’t fight fire with fire. Instead, try to remedy the solution or if you cannot, just don’t reply. Every email you send or receive is logged, reply in a negative way or flaming others can be a one-way ticket out of a job. When in doubt, take 10 minutes before sending the email. After you have time to cool off, read it again and see if there’s a better way to approach the situation.

4. Hello, is it me your looking for?


When in a rush, you may forgot to start your emails off with a “Good morning” or a simple “Hey”. Common courtesy goes along way in creating strong business relationships and being friendly to people you’ve never met. Start every email you send with a polite greeting and end it with a simple salutation, such as “Thank you” or “Regards”.

5. Use proper grammar


If your emails don’t contain proper spelling, grammar and punctuation it will be hard for the recipient to take you seriously. Not only does it make you look totally unprofessional, but it’s often enough to turn clients away from doing business with you. Re-read all your emails before you click the send button. If you catch a mistake but you’ve already sent it, use this simple hack (seriously, it’s awesome): Gmail’s Undo Send.

You’ll never meet many of the people you email and, as a result, your emails become their only reference point in deciding if they want to do business with you. Well-written emails are an absolute must for business today.

SaneBox is an all-in-one email management solution that organizes your inbox, giving you the time to focus on the important work instead of sorting through non-urgent emails. SaneBox offers email filtering, one-click unsubscribe, follow-up reminders, and much more.

SaneBox organizes your inbox so you can focus more on the important tasks. Try it free for two weeks:



18 Dec 23:17

"I was embarrassed to be in public with him while he made several sexist remarks about the other..."

“I was embarrassed to be in public with him while he made several sexist remarks about the other candidate, but I wasn’t sure enough of myself at the time to walk out or call him out, which I deeply regret. Interestingly, male mentors and hiring managers have all said that I should have played it cool and finished the interview (which I did), whereas senior developers I’ve told this story to have told me they would have walked out.”

- On Interviewing as a Junior Dev
18 Dec 23:18

"The technology industry sees itself as in rebellion against corporate America: not corrupt, not..."

“"The technology industry sees itself as in rebellion against corporate America: not corrupt, not buttoned-up, not empty. In fact, a tech company can be as corrupt, soulless, and empty as any corporation, but being unprofessional helps us maintain the belief that we are somehow different from Wall Street."”

- Interview with Shanley Kane, Editor, Model View Culture
17 Dec 16:39

Twitter Favorites: [tinysubversions] I wrote a short essay on how Content Forever works, and I link to ten different working drafts, explaining my process

Darius Kazemi @tinysubversions
I wrote a short essay on how Content Forever works, and I link to ten different working drafts, explaining my process…
17 Dec 17:25

Twitter Favorites: [WhiteHouse] "To the Cuban people, America extends a hand of friendship." —President Obama Watch the full video. #CubaPolicy

The White House @WhiteHouse
"To the Cuban people, America extends a hand of friendship." —President Obama Watch the full video. #CubaPolicy
17 Dec 20:19

Twitter Favorites: [knguyen] Told Anna I was listening to War on Drugs and she screamed "Kevin NO!"

Kevin Nguyen @knguyen
Told Anna I was listening to War on Drugs and she screamed "Kevin NO!"
17 Dec 23:03

MetaFilter favorites: MeFi: Twitter Bots for My Real Friends, Real Bots for My Twitter Friends

Darius Kazemi, aka @tinysubversions, is a bot-maker extrordinaire. Known for his inspiring talk on creativity and the lottery at XOXO last year, Kazemi has founded NaNoGenMo and the Bot Summit, created such wonderful Twitter Bots as Olivia Taters, (actually by @robdubbin) For My Real Friends, Miraculous Pictures and Two Headlines. Today he posted about his process in creating Content Forever, a writeup which covers many angles in creating readable bot writing, including escaping phenomena as the Wikipedia philosophy phenomenon.
18 Dec 00:11

Twitter Favorites: [danudey] @frogtoss It's probably safer to assume that all facts are artificial and all things are unknowable. It's a little solipsistic though.

Wile E. Cyrus @danudey
@frogtoss It's probably safer to assume that all facts are artificial and all things are unknowable. It's a little solipsistic though.
18 Dec 20:07

Instapaper Liked: What Happened When Marissa Mayer Tried to Be Steve Jobs

Eric Jackson was sitting in his hotel room on Sea Island, Ga., watching his kids splash around in the pool, when he clicked “publish” on his latest blog post…
18 Dec 23:40

We’re all going to need clothes

by Doc Searls

door knocker, beacon hillIn the physical world we know what privacy is and how it works.

We know it because we have developed privacy technologies and norms for thousands of years. Doors and windows are privacy technologies. So is clothing. So are manners respecting the intentions behind others’ use of those things. Those manners are personal, and social. They are how we clothe, shelter and conduct ourselves — and respect how others do the same.

The Internet is a new virtual world we also inhabit. In the form we know it today, it was born with the first graphical browsers, the first ISPs, email and other handy graces.

In many ways it was a paradise. But, as with Eden, we arrived naked there — and we still are, except for the homes and clothing we get from companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple. Also from governments and other entities that tell us what our names are and limit what we can do.

What those entities give us is as modern as the middle ages. We toil and prosper inside the walls of their castles, and on their company lands. In many ways, this isn’t bad. But it isn’t ours.

To have true privacy in the networked world, we should be in charge of our own lives, our own identities, our own data, our own things, in our own ways.

We should be able to control what we disclose, to whom, and on what terms.

We should be able to keep personal data as secret and secure as we like.

We should be able to share that data with others in faith that only those others can see and use it.

Our digital identities should be sovereign — ours alone — and disclosed to others at our discretion.

(True: administrative identifiers are requirements of civilization, but they are not who we are, and we all know that.

Think of how identity works in the physical world: why governments and credit cards call me David while family members call me Dave and the rest of the world calls me Doc.

In the physical world we are not constantly advertising our identity. Nor is every entity we encounter interested in burdening themselves with knowing our names. It is enough to recognize each other as human beings, and learn people’s names when they tell us. Up to that point we remain for each other literally anonymous: nameless. This is a civic and social grace we hardly cared about until it was stripped from us online.

In the physical world, companies don’t plant tracking beacons on people, or follow them around to see who who are and what they do — unless they’ve been led by big-data-at-all-costs advisors to copy the bad manners of an online world that has the manners of a toddler.

Bad manners by companies spying on us online won’t change as long as we don’t control means of disclosing our selves, including data that is clearly ours. Until we have true privacy — privacy that we define and control for ourselves — all we’ll have are:

  • Crude prophylaxis, such as tracking and advertising blockers
  • Talk about which companies screw us the least
  • Talk about how governments screw us too
  • Calls for laws and regulations that protect yesterday from last Thursday

We won’t get true privacy — the kind we’ve know and understood offline since forever — until we have the online equivalents of the clothing, doors and manners we have long established in the physical world.

If we expect big companies or governments to give it to us, we’re barking up the wrong tree.

I’m hoping we’ll get it from the Barney Pressmans of the online world. Here’s a classic ad for Barney’s (his clothing store) that ran in the 1960s: (Just watch the first one, which ends :47 seconds in.) That’s where my headline came from.


19 Dec 00:24

Shadows in the Gaslight

by Sarah Wanenchak

image courtesy of Carmen Jost

There are moments when we’re taught to mistrust ourselves, to regard our own feelings with high suspicion, where we learn that we are not our own friends or companions, where we do not lead ourselves well through the world but instead point the way toward traps, pits, quicksand. We learn to view ourselves as enemies.

Don’t pretend this isn’t true of some more than others.


Calm down.

Immediately followed by Don’t take it so personally.

Immediately followed by It’s not serious.

This is not how it starts but this is how it continues, forever.


Reality is a platform on which we’re given to stand. This starts very early, and it starts early because how we live and move and are in the world is guided by how we orient ourselves to this concept. How we know what is. How we know what we trust. How we know what’s legitimate. How we know what’s Okay, so we know how to be Okay, and how we know when we are not Okay.

This is someone else’s idea of Okay and we’re taught not to question where it came from.

These are stories. These are the first stories. These are the oldest stories. I don’t know how many times I have to say this: These are stories and they are real but they aren’t true. On some level we know this, but you don’t trust yourself, do you? So you don’t trust that feeling. You are not Okay for having it. You are not Okay.

So there’s “real” and there’s Okay and later when we find holes and gaps in those walls and doors through which we might walk, when we find the membrane is more porous than we were told, we have no idea what to do. It’s terrifying. It’s shameful. It’s the lie of an enemy, and this is how we learn to hate our own stories.

This is how we learn to hate ourselves.


Calm down.

Immediately followed by Don’t be so sensitive.

Immediately followed by It’s all in your head.

If you don’t think words are real you have never encountered words.


I can’t tell you how many years I spent looking for the button that would turn this off. It’s been thirty years and I still haven’t found it.

We’re taught not to trust buttons. We’re taught that we should have them.


Calm down.

Immediately followed by It’s not that big a deal.

Immediately followed by It was just a joke.


What you need to understand is that the fetishization of the real is older than the digital. Okay, we know that. So what you need to understand is that the fetishization of the real is about more than what we can see, more than what we can hold in our hands.

The fetishization of the real is how we learn to make enemies of ourselves. It’s how we learn to hate our own stories.


I remember I was crying over something that wasn’t real, and I was trying to stop crying and I was trying to explain why I was crying and I was trying to explain why I was crying to myself, and I was trying to find that button that would turn it off and I was thinking about buttons, about programming, and I said I tell stories.

This is the bug in my feature.


When we look at what we make and what we do and how we use it, when we look at the meaning we construct around those things, when we look at what we know about ourselves and where we come from, when we look at the stories we tell about those things, when we look at our myths and our legends and every silly movie, TV show, book, video game, every stupid little piece of cultural paraphernalia, when we look at everything around us, every story, and we see ourselves injured, murdered, made monstrous, made weak, made insignificant, absent, erased, the story we’re told is that we don’t matter.

The story we’re told is that we don’t exist, and we never have, and we never will.


Calm down.

Immediately followed by It’s not real.

Immediately followed by It’s just a story.


And I said I don’t have to apologize for this, and I don’t have to justify it to anyone, and I don’t have to minimize my own pain. I don’t have to explain why I love these people who are far away, and whom I might never meet, and who aren’t real. I don’t have to be suspicious of myself. I don’t have to regard myself as an enemy. I don’t have to hate my stories.

I get to tell my stories. That’s the point.


Calm down.

Fuck you.


We have always been here. We are here. We always will be.

We’re real.


Sarah tells stories on Twitter – @dynamicsymmetry

18 Dec 17:32

women big wave surfers keep charging @biancavalenti @savishaugh @kealakennelly @wickrx and finally getting some press!

by Emily Chang

Instagram filter used: Inkwell

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18 Dec 14:37

Rumour: Android 5.1 coming Q1 2015 with silent mode, improved battery management

by Jane McEntegart

The rollout of Android 5.0 Lollipop proceeds at a fairly even clip. We’ve already seen the OTA Android update deployed to Nexus 7 and Nexus 5 devices the world over, as well as Nexus 4 users, and the HTC One M8 and M7 GPE. Today brings news of a different kind of Lollipop update, though. According to Android Pit, Android 5.1, the first major update to Lollipop, will come sometime in the first quarter of 2015.

Android 5.1 will bring some significant improvements, addressing concerns about battery life, as well as improved RAM management, and fixes for certain bugs and instabilities. It will also see the return of silent mode, which has been noticeably absent from 5.0. With the current version of Lollipop, you can lower the volume to vibrate but not beyond that to completely silent.

Android Pit says this Q1 release time frame comes from two separate sources “close to the matter” and has the full changelog, too. Check it out:

  • Silent mode added after missing on Android 5.0
  • General improvements in system stability
  • Improved RAM management
  • Fixes for sudden app closures
  • Improved battery management
  • Excessive consumption of network devices when used Wi-Fi fixed
  • Issues with wireless connections fixed
  • Problems with Okay Google function solved
  • Notifications problems solved
  • Some sound problems experience by certain devices fixed
  • Other improvements and changes
  • Changes in the Material Design color palette (after users complaints, possibly for a higher version though)

Google hasn’t commented on any of the above, so it’s possible there could be more coming with 5.1. March (the end of Q1) would bring us to around the five month mark since Lollipop’s debut, which seems about the right time for a big update. The dust has had time to settle and user feedback will be plentiful. We’ll keep you posted on anything we hear related to Android 5.1!

18 Dec 03:57

David, Goliath and empires of the web

by msurman

People in Mozilla have been talking a lot about radical participation recently. As Mitchell said at recently, participation will be key to our success as we move into ’the third era of Mozilla’ — the era where we find ways to be successful beyond the desktop browser.


This whole conversation has prompted me to reflect on how I think about radical participation today. And about what drew me to Mozilla in the first place more than five years ago.

For me, a big part of that draw was an image in my mind of Mozilla as the David who had knocked over Microsoft’s Goliath. Mozilla was the successful underdog in a fight I really cared about. Against all odds, Mozilla shook the foundation of a huge empire and changed what was possible with the web. This was magnetic. I wanted to be a part of that.

I started to think about this more the other day: what does it really mean for Mozilla to be David? And how do we win against future Goliaths?

Malcom Gladwell wrote a book last year that provides an interesting angle on this. He said: we often take the wrong lesson from David and Goliath story, thinking that it’s surprising that such a small challenger could fell such a large opponent.

Gladwell argues that Goliath was much more vulnerable that we think. He was large. But he was also slow, lumbering and had bad eyesight. Moreover, he used the most traditional fighting techniques of his time: the armour and brute force of infantry.

David, on the other hand, actually had a significant set of strategic advantages. He was nimble and good with a sling. A sling used properly, by the way, is a real weapon: it can project a rock at the speed of a .45 caliber pistol. Instead of confronting Goliath with brute force, he used a different and surprising technique to knock over his opponent. He wasn’t just courageous and lucky, he was smart.

Most other warriors would have seen Goliath as invincible. Not David: he was playing the game by his own rules.

In many ways, the same thing happened when we took on Microsoft and Internet Explorer. They didn’t expect the citizens of the web to rally against them: to build — and then choose by the millions — an unknown browser. Microsoft didn’t expect the citizens of the web to sling a rock at their weak spot, right between their eyes.


As a community, radical participation was our sling and our rock. It was our strategic advantage and our element of surprise. And it is what shook the web loose from Microsoft’s imperial grip on the web.

Of course, participation still is our sling. It is still part of who were are as an organization and a global community. And, as the chart above shows, it is still what makes us different.

But, as we know, the setting has changed dramatically since Mozilla first released Firefox. It’s not just — or even primarily — the browser that shapes the web today. It’s not just the three companies in this chart that are vying for territorial claim. With the internet growing at breakneck speed, there are many Goliaths on many fronts. And these Goliaths are expanding their scope around the world. They are building empires.

Screen Shot 2014-12-09 at 4.46.59 AM

This has me thinking a lot about empire recently: about how the places that were once the subjects of the great European empires are by and large the same places we call “emerging markets”. These are the places where billions of people will be coming online for the first time in coming years. They are also the places where the new economic empires of the digital age are most aggressively consolidating their power.

Consider this: In North America, Android has about 68% of smartphone market share. In most parts of Asia and Africa, Android market share is in the 90% range – give or take a few points by country. That means Google has a near monopoly not only on the operating system on these markets, but also on the distribution of apps and how they are paid for. Android is becoming the Windows 98 of emerging economies, the monopoly and the control point; the arbiter of what is possible.

Also consider that Facebook and WhatsApp together control 80% of the messaging market globally, and are owned by one company. More scary: as we do market research with new smartphone users in countries like Bangladesh and Kenya. We usually ask people: do you use the internet: do you use the internet on you phone? The response is often: “what’s the Internet?” “What do you use you phone for?”, we ask. The response: “Oh, Facebook and WhatsApp.” Facebook’s internet is the only internet these people know of or can imagine.

It’s not the Facebooks and Googles of the world that concern me, per se. I use their products and in many cases, I love them. And I also believe they have done good in the world.

What concerns me is that, like the European powers in the 18th and 19th centuries, these companies are becoming empires that control both what is possible and what is imaginable. They are becoming monopolies that exert immense control over what people can do and experience on the web. And over what the web – and human society as a whole – may become.

One thing is clear to me: I don’t want this sort of future for the web. I want a future where anything is possible. I want a future where anything is imaginable. The web can be about these kinds of unlimited possibilities. That’s the web that I want everyone to be able to experience, including the billions of people coming online for the first time.

This is the future we want as a Mozilla. And, as a community we are going to need to take on some of these Goliaths. We are going to need reach down into our pocket and pull out that rock. And we are going to need to get some practice with our sling.

The truth is: Mozilla has become a bit rusty with it. Yes, participation is still a key part of who we are. But, if we’re honest, we haven’t relied on it as much of late.

If we want to shake the foundations of today’s digital empires, we need to regain that practice and proficiency. And find new and surprising ways to use that power. We need to aim at new weak spots in the giant.

We may not know what those new and surprising tactics are yet. But there is an increasing consensus that we need them. Chris Beard has talked recently about thinking differently about participation and product, building participation into the actual features and experience of our software. And we have been talking for the last couple of years about the importance of web literacy — and the power of community and participation to get people teaching each other how to wield the web. These are are the kinds of directions we need to take, and the strategies we need to figure out.

It’s not only about strategy, of course. Standing up to Goliaths and using participation to win are also about how we show up in the world. The attitude each of us embodies every day.

Think about this. Think about the image of David. The image of the underdog. Think about the idea of independence. And, then think of the task at hand: for all of us to bring more people into the Mozilla community and activate them.

If we as individuals and as an organization show up again as a challenger — like David — we will naturally draw people into what we’re doing. It’s a part of who we are as Mozillians, and its magnetic when we get it right

Filed under: mozilla, poetry, webmakers
17 Dec 22:41

The Post-Mobile Era

by Fraser Speirs

Twitter followers will know that I've been interested in Chrome OS for a while. Podcast listeners will know that I've been crazily frustrated with Apple's technology since iOS 7 shipped, particularly from a quality standpoint.

Put these two things together and it's time to experiment further with Chromebooks.

When you work in educational technology, you have to be a little like the Roman god Janus and look both forward and backward. You look backward because everyone else is behind you: pupils, parents, colleagues, administrators, regulators, government. These are the people you have to take with you into the new.

At the same time, we have to periodically make very clear judgment calls about what is happening right now - without reference to the past or the future. This is what happens in your summer refresh: it doesn't matter what's coming out in October or at CES and it doesn't much matter what you've deployed in the past - you have to sign your PO in June and the trucks roll up in August with whatever is the best possible decision at the time. Such are the hard scheduling realities of school life.

Like Janus, it's also essential to keep one eye on the future. Trends change, the conversation moves on and, if you want to serve your school community correctly and well, you have to not just be abreast of them but be leading and living those changes well before you expect others to.

This is what keeps me up at night.

When we started with iPad in 2010, the argument was around the appropriateness of "mobile devices" in the classroom. Could we manage without the standard computer tropes that adults of the time had been brought up with?

Douglas Adams:

I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:

1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

I was 32 when we started with the iPad and, you know what? Douglas Adams was right.

It's odd to think back to those days and remember the heat we took for doing what is now an accepted (if not yet widely-implemented) part of the educational technology stack.

They said children couldn't multi-task on iPads. Wrong. They said children couldn't type on iPads. Wrong. They said children would break their iPads. Wrong. They said children would lose their iPads. Wrong. They said Android tablets would be better and cheaper within a year. Wrong.

What the over-35s meant was that they couldn't multi-task, type on or handle their iPad without breaking it.

Having said that, the move to mobile devices wasn't as much of a paradigm shift as some people thought. An iPad or an iPhone is, after all, a fairly doctrinaire computer of the type that Apple has made since 1984. Many people couldn't see past the introduction of the touchscreen and thought it heralded a completely new era of computing. Many thought that the tablet had to be understood from first principles rather than looking at it as an evolution of the laptop computer. While the touchscreen and the tablet form factor have enabled a number of new and important use cases and contexts, I'm not so sure it represents a completely new era. The smartphone, because of scale, reach and carrier subsidies, is genuinely fundamentally a different proposition but that's another post.

Like every Macintosh before it, an iOS device is essentially a package of processing capability, IO, sensors and local data storage and state maintenance. Later revisions brought some online syncing capabilities with iCloud. Even with iCloud, a user's "suite" of devices - their Mac, iPad and iPhone - remain three distinct bundles of local data and state, some parts of which are synchronised through the cloud but don't live in the cloud.

This distinction is crucial. This distinction is the spring from which all the confusion arises when your colleagues and relatives don't understand that buying more iCloud storage space won't solve their storage space problems on their 16GB iPhone.

Continuity and Handoff in iOS 8 and Yosemite attempts to bridge the divide between devices. While we have had data syncing for some time in OS X and iOS, Continuity is about attempting - at some level - to synchronise state between devices.

You can understand why iOS is built that way. The first iPhone had only EDGE networking and a weak battery. Any software process that depended on constant connectivity to the network was a total non-starter in the mid-2000s. Today, though, we have much more power-efficient hardware in our devices, better batteries and much faster cellular networks.

It seems to me that the prospect of a cloud-only existence is very close. Hence my interest in Chromebook.

I don't wish to reiterate the simplistic arguments about "you can't do this or that on whatever device". When we're looking at longer-term trends, rather than making tactical decisions about the current deployment, we need to think deeper. We need to avoid the human tendency to over-estimate the short term and vastly under-estimate the long term.

What I want to think about more is the idea that we are moving into a post-mobile era. Encapsulated in that phrase "post-mobile" is all kinds of opportunity for misunderstanding and erroneous refutation, so let me be clear: post-mobile doesn't connote that mobile devices are going away. Far from it. They may eventually be the only devices we own.

What I mean by "post-mobile" is that we may be about to move away from the idea of local state and storage, even on our mobile devices. To a certain extent - even possibly to a great extent - most people have already done this on the desktop (and laptop). Every significant application or service that has arisen in the last ten years or more on the desktop has been a web app. The last exception I can think of is possibly iTunes and, in the broad scheme of computing, it's even debatable if iTunes counts as "significant".

I started to notice this when I started describing my iPhone as " a remote control for cloud services". It seemed that every app I touched regularly on my iPhone was an app that more or less totally depended on networking for its function. Let's look at the main ones:

  • Mail
  • Safari
  • Twitter
  • Music streaming (iTunes Match)
  • Google Drive
  • Maps
  • Feedly (RSS)
  • Pocket
  • Travel apps
  • Instagram
  • Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube, Plex
  • Evernote

It seemed, ultimately, that my iPhone was becoming a stateless device. This hit home to me when I upgraded to my latest iPhone. Instead of restoring my backups, I set the phone up as new. There was almost no data loss: everything I had access to on that phone came back from cloud services almost immediately.

I think this is largely a function of the use cases that a smartphone is put to: communication and entertainment-oriented tasks that depend on up-to-date information. It can be done but it's not comfortable to write a Keynote presentation on your iPhone.

The iPad, however, is a different story. There, I do build movies in iMovie, work in GarageBand and create in Keynote. There is a lot of local state on the iPad and it can be quite difficult to manage at times.

So, where does my interest in Chromebook arise from? Well, ChomeOS has always felt to me like it really had the soul of Google in it, in a way that Android never did. Google is all about the web and ChromeOS is all about the web.

My interest in ChromeOS definitely also waxes and wanes along in inverse proportion to my frustration with Apple. Right now, it waxes strongly as Apple's ability to ship reliable software appears to be disappearing like snow off a dyke, as we say in Scotland.

ChromeOS isn't interesting because it's got better apps than iOS. Generally, it doesn't. It's not interesting because Chromebooks are nicer tools than Apple computers; they're not. I won't lie: Chrome OS is partly interesting because Chromebooks are 20-50% of the price of Apple computers.

ChromeOS is really interesting, though, because it's a computer whose entire existence is built around the idea that neither state nor data is local to the machine. In some ways, we had this before when we used OS X Server to manage OS X machines with auto-mounted home directories and so forth. Auto mounted home directories barely worked across a LAN, however, far less a WAN. Software just wasn't designed to talk sparingly to storage in those days.

The total decoupling of state and data from the machine and coupling it to the user's account has a number of interesting implications. The device becomes essentially disposable or at least highly fungible. It becomes secure, since there's little or no local data to attack and even logging into the computer can require 2-factor authentication.

When I first started looking at Chomebooks, they were cheap and quite weak computers. They were slow and made of poor plastics. Today, though, they are much faster and much better built and have achieved this without the kind of price increases that we have seen from the once-cheap Android tablets not trying to compete with iPad on performance and quality. Chromebooks are reaping the dividend of 30 years of development on PCs.

At its heart, though, a Chromebook is a computer built around Google Drive and Google Docs. The Drive suite is the killer app for Chromebook, and the rest the rest. It is interesting, though, that there increasingly exists a class of software that is "synchronised local state" and another class that is "cloud state accessed locally". This is the difference between Pages and Google Docs or between OmniFocus and Todoist or between iMessage and Slack.

The long-term strategic part of this is that it appears to be much harder to build a robust cloud-coordinated back-end to previously local-state software than it is to make a cloud-backed application work offline. Witness the rather sorry state of collaboration tools like iWork's iCloud collaboration, OneDrive or even Dropbox.

The flipside of this coin is that it's not just about having your state and data in the cloud; it's also about having your applications running continuously, even when you're not actively using them. There's no IFTTT channel for Microsoft Office. I'm very interested in what happens when our tools are no longer tools that we start and stop using but rather are processes that operate continually in the cloud working on our behalf and which we check in with from time to time as we need. This is the difference between Google Now and Siri: Google Now works for you when you're not watching; Siri works only when you whistle.

Phase one was about adopting "mobile" technology in schools. It worked and it's embedded now. iPad is the workhorse tool and I appreciate that very much. It just means it's no longer particularly intellectually interesting. For me, phase one is over.

To my mind, phase two - the next five years or so - is about making full use of the cloud in schools. I hope Google moves ChromeOS beyond the laptop form factor, so that we don't lose some of those benefits of mobility. I sure hope Apple decides to be part of that conversation at all.

18 Dec 07:19

Recommended on Medium: 2014: The Year in Garbage

18 Dec 05:05

This is Good and Too Long Coming… Cuba & the US

by Ms. Jen
Today President Obama announced that the US and Cuba are working on normalizing relations. This is good that the US and Cuba are moving forward into 21st century. It is even better to say goodbye to the vestiges of the 1950 and 1960s policy that no longer fits either nation or the current state of... Read more »
18 Dec 01:31

The Future is Open, and It's POWERful

by randall

Are you content with the status quo in technology? I'm not.

Years ago, I became aware of this little known (at the time) project called "Ubuntu". Remember it?

I don't know about you, but once I discovered Ubuntu and became involved I was so excited about the future it proposed that I never looked back.

Aside from Ubuntu's "approachable by everyone" and "free forever" project DNA, one of the things that really attracted me to it was that it had the guts to take on the status quo. I believed (and I still believe) that the status quo needs a good disruption. Complacency and doing things "as they always have been" just plain hurts.

In those days, the status quo was proprietary software and well-meaning but inpenetrable (to the everyday person that just wanted to get things done) free and open source software. I'm happy that we've collectively solved the toughest parts of those problems. Sure, there are still issues to be resolved but as they say, that's mostly detail.

Fast forward to today. Now, we are faced with a hosting (or call it cloud infrastructure if you wish) hardware landscape that is nearly a perfect monopoly and is so tightly locked down that we can't solve the world's big problems.

Spotting an opportunity to create something better and to change the world, a bunch of people rallied together to create

Click to learn more!Click to learn more!

Not surprisingly, Ubuntu joined and became a partner early on. And today, another one of the most famous disruptors has joined: Rackspace. In their words,

"In the world of servers, it’s getting harder and more costly to deliver the generational performance and efficiency gains that we used to take for granted. There are increasing limitations in both the basic materials we use, and the way we design and integrate our systems."

So here we are. Ubuntu, Rackspace, and dozens of others poised once again to disrupt.

It's going to be an interesting and fun ride. 2015 is poised to be the year that the world woke up to the true power of open.

I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too. Please join us!