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12 Sep 13:09

Open Badges Community Project Call, Sept. 10, 2014

Open Badges Community Project Call, Sept. 10, 2014:

Speaker:

Agenda: http://bit.ly/CCSept10

This week we were joined by Achievery CTO Kerri Lemoie, who has also been leading the efforts of the Badge Alliance Directory Working Group to build a global directory of open badges.

Psyched to announce the world-wide #OpenBadges directory today at 12 ET http://t.co/ezV7CPh2am See it in action http://t.co/RDR5zqo3bq

— Kerri Lemoie (@kayaelle)
September 10, 2014

From Discovery to Directory

We’ve seen and heard a lot of great things from the Mozilla Discovery team this year. In June 2014, Chloe Varelidi joined the community call to announce the launch of a prototype of Mozilla Discover, a pathway tool that connects open badges to young people’s education, skills and experiences, character traits and interests.

The Open Badges Directory “is a prototype of an un-opinionated storage and retrieval system (API) for Open Badges and an open source community project,” created during the Discovery Project as a collaboration between Mozilla and Achievery, seated in the Badge Alliance Working Group:

The Badge Alliance’s Open Badges Directory is openly available code that enables any platform to begin to do the same.

This week, Achievery launched it’s beta version of a  search and index of learning through Open Badges.  As of today, Achievery provides a simple index and search engine for learning opportunities that are compatible with the open standards.

Take a look here: http://achievery.com/discover

image

Currently, the Directory only indexes badge classes. It is possible to search for badge classes, tags (such as ‘coding’ below), issuers, and badge name within the Directory right now. Future plans include being able to search for badge instances, endorsements, and pathways, to get a broader view of someone’s learning beyond individual badges.

image

"Badge class" refers to information about types of badges, as opposed to a "badge instance" which refers to an individual earner’s awarded badge that is in their Backpack. See below for more detail on what Badge Class means according to the Open Badge Standard:

image

We’ve seen increasing numbers of badge earners and issuers over the past couple of years, but for those wishing to search for badges, we’ve had little to offer - until now. The Directory group has now built “the early technical infrastructure to make a Directory of Open Badges a reality" and we couldn’t be more excited about the possibilities for this prototype!

Badge issuers can go ahead and register their badges with the Directory to allow them to better connect learners with opportunities for earning badges.

Badge Issuers: Find out how to register your badges here

Other ways to get involved include spreading the word via social media, using the Directory API on your web sites, and getting involved with the Directory Working Group within the Badge Alliance.

Comments or questions? Get in touch with the Directory team at team@achievery.com or directory-support@badgealliance.org

For more information, check out Kerri’s slides from the community call presentation, or this blog post over on Achievery.com

12 Sep 14:21

http://scripting.com/2014/09/12/#a1410531718

12 Sep 14:21

HTC rumoured to be working on 16MP waterproof camera that connects to Android and iOS devices

by Jane McEntegart

Earlier this week, HTC sent out invitations for an event set to take place in New York City next month. Leaving aside the fact that the only notable rumoured device HTC has right now is the Nexus 9 (which will definitely be announced by Google when it does finally make its debut), the invite’s “Double Exposure” tagline suggests that this is not a phone or tablet event but one about cameras.

Adding fuel to the fire is a report from Bloomberg that claims HTC is developing its first camera, or at least a camera accessory for your phone. This device will supposedly connect to both Android and iOS devices and will have Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, as well as a 16MP sensor, and a tube-like construction. Bloomberg’s source says this device, along with a selfie phone, could make an appearance at the company’s Double Exposure event next month.

We’ve seen HTC focus a lot more on camera technology in the last year. The company showed us the fruits of its labour earlier this year when it introduced the One M8, a phone that packs a dual-camera array that allows users to capture depth. This in turn allows them to adjust the focus of their photos after they’ve been captured, similar to the Lytro or Nokia’s Focus Later.

As more people subscribe to the rationale that the best camera is the one you have with you, they’ve come to expect a certain level of quality and functionality from smartphone cameras. Bloomberg says this camera device will compete with the likes of the GoPro, so it’s possible HTC’s plan is to introduce a rugged camera that relies on your smartphone’s connectivity in the same way a wearable would and allows you to upload photos and video while you’re hiking or mountain biking. All will (hopefully) be revealed on October 8.

SourceBloomberg
12 Sep 14:24

Back to Beijing

by agavin
12 Sep 13:35

Watches

mkalus shared this story from xkcd.com.

Old people used to write obnoxious thinkpieces about how people these days always wear watches and are slaves to the clock, but now they've switched to writing thinkpieces about how kids these days don't appreciate the benefits of an old-fashioned watch. My position is: The word 'thinkpiece' sounds like a word made up by someone who didn't know about the word 'brain'.
12 Sep 01:20

The Gratitude Challenge

by matthew

I was challenged by my wife to post three things I am grateful for, each day for seven days. I did this on Facebook, but I thought it might be nice to post them all here. I am indeed lucky. So, here it goes in no specific order.

  1. I am grateful for books. My parents instilled me with a lifelong love of reading even though I wasn't supposed to learn to read or write. The extended to my working in a book store and eventually managing one.
  2. I am grateful for my family. I crossed international borders for grad school and stayed because of my amazing wife. We adopted an fabulous girl who blows my mind away. Every day I am with these amazing ladies, I marvel at how blessed I am. I can't even express how much I love them both.
  3. I am grateful my unbelievably brave sister Sean Mary Ann Saunders who completely amazed me two years ago in a conversation we had in her car. Once again she became a hero in my eyes. I adore her.
  4. I'm grateful for Drupal. It has kept me well employed for many years now. Who would have thought a little project dreamed up in a dorm room in Belgium would turn into such a phenomenon. Thanks Dries - I appreciate what you've put into the project and it is my honour and pleasure to be serving on the Association Board with you. It is my great privilege to work at Aten with great colleagues.
  5. I'm grateful for my kookie dogs. Felix, who runs back and forth under my legs when I'm putting my shoes and socks on. Fremont, who despite all odds keeps going and going. Seneca who is just the sweetest thing with such kindness. They are all good dogs.
  6. I'm grateful for my brother Alec, who has quietly influenced almost all of the positive choices I've made in my life. I probably wouldn't be a technologist if it weren't for him blazing the way before me. If I hadn't made that choice, I would likely have never met my wife and I wouldn't enjoy the prosperity I have found.
  7. I am grateful that I can afford to live in a nice home in a neighbourhood that has a great high school for my kiddo. I'm also close to several really pretty places that I can walk the dogs. Location is everything!
  8. I am grateful that I learned to cook at an early age. I love looking in the fridge not quite knowing what is going to be for supper and ending up whipping up a pleasant meal.
  9. I am grateful for the Internet and how it has allowed me to stay close to so many people I would have lost track of otherwise. I have relationships with cousins that would have been tough to maintain otherwise. It has also helped me be introduced to so many other people - my wife and a ton of others through lambda moo, LOU (which I no longer play) put me in touch with so many other people who I am now friends with on facebook.
  10. I am grateful for my parents. My father who painstakingly wrote silly stories on that computer paper with holes in the side, not the 8 X 11 kind, it was super wide and had alternating light green and white, to help me learn how to read. My mother who refused to believe that her son with learning disabilities wouldn't make it through high school and go onto university and just kept working with me to prove the "experts" wrong.
  11. I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to see so many parts of the world. I have traveled to most provinces in Canada and nearly all the states in the United States. I have been to many countries in Europe, and have spent a ton of time in the UK. I've been to Australia. Seeing how other people live is growth. I cherish these moments.
  12. I am grateful that when I am making things, art mostly, but sometimes also simple things like yard work, I feel like I touch on the divine. When I make, I get a glimpse of what I think the great maker must feel. I love that feeling of joy as your hands do something that, quite literally, nobody else has ever done.
  13. I am grateful for my health. I'm a cancer survivor of nearly 15 years. The cancer changed the way I view the world. At one point in my life I would stress out on small things. I don't sweat the little things any more. I relate to people, especially those who are sick, in a very different way. While having cancer sucks, in a strange way it made be a better person.
  14. I am grateful for my time at Virginia Tech. My committee gave me so much leeway to explore outside the normal bounds of the program working with multidirectional online video at a time when very few people were trying to sort out those bleeding edges. They certainly weren't part of normal theatre craft. I am deeply grateful for George Thorn, Patsy Lavender, Barbara Carlisle, and Don Drapeau for allowing this to happen. They were an amazing group of mentors.
  15. I am grateful for my opportunity to serve. My parents, from the time I was small, instilled a desire to serve starting with my singing in an amazing Men and Boys choir at St. Matthew's Church in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. Over the last few years I've served on the board of directors of an amazing charter school, Crown Pointe Academy, in Westminster CO. I currently serve on the board of directors for the #Drupal Association. Last year I volunteered as the project manager for a great #Drupal camp here in Denver. I'm doing it again this year.
  16. I am grateful for sun and rain and dirt and plants. I love growing things and helping them thrive. Puttering around the garden gives me a sense of worth and belonging. When I see the pollinators interacting with things I've nurtured, it makes me feel like part of something far larger. And of course, I AM!
  17. I am grateful for the arts. I love painting and sculpting - I talked about that in a previous post about touching the divine - but I also love consuming. Listening to music, going to a gallery, touring a museum - all these things give me joy. Museums, even ones that aren't about art, use artistry to display. The arts imbue and work through everything we do, see, and experience. In a big way, they define who I am as a person.
  18. I am grateful that modern medicine can do all the things it does. I would be 15 years dead without it. I would be living with a bad gall bladder without it. I am grateful that my personal GP listens to me and helps me craft choices that are right for me. All of this while I find myself constantly calling and arguing with the insurance companies. But at least I have a reason to be doing that and I'm also able to.
  19. I am grateful for memory foam. This seems a little trite and shallow I know. However, my back doesn't hurt nearly as much since we got that mattress. I sleep better and more deeply. I really really like that mattress.
  20. I am grateful for our local farmer's market. I can get amazing food like white carrots, stunning meat pies, fresh local fruit like peaches and pears. Bonus points, it is right beside our local independent book store, The Tattered Cover. MORE BONUS POINTS, it is right beside a Home Depot.
  21. I am grateful for Fridays and Saturdays, especially when I get to play games and watch movies into the evening with my wife and daughter. Who would have thought Alexus would get so into 80's movies like The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's day off?

I'm really grateful for having done this challenge. Just sit and think about how fortunate and how much privilege you have living in the Western World. It is astonishing how lucky we are.

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12 Sep 08:00

Let’s get Physical! New physical computing animation

by Ben Nuttall

With the success of the first two productions from Saladhouse, our animator friends in Manchester (What is a Raspberry Pi? and Setting up your Raspberry Pi), we proceeded to make plans for a third in the series. The topic we chose to cover this time is one which demonstrates the additional power of the Pi in learning – an introduction to the realm of physical computing.

Look through the amazing projects in our blog, the MagPi or Pi Weekly and you’ll see many of them use the portability of the small form factor and low powered nature of the Pi along with the extensibility the GPIO pins give you – not to mention the wealth of community produced add-on boards available making it all much easier.

B+ gpio closeup

Those pins sticking out there. General Purpose Input/Output. Did we mention there are 40 on the B+?

Here at Pi Towers we all love physical projects – from robotics and home automation to flatulence alarms and scaring the elderly – and we believe they’re a great way to introduce young people to coding, computational thinking, product development and understanding systems.

The video refers to some resources for projects you can make yourself. We featured the hamster disco on our blog in July, and you may have heard talk of some of the others on twitter – which are all brand new, constructed and tested by our education team. They are:

hamster-party-cam grandpa-scarer fart-detector robo-butler

 

And here they are in real life:

Physical computing Foundation style: fart detector, robobutler, hamster cam and grandpa scarer. Yes, they all work :)

Physical computing Foundation style: fart detector, robobutler, hamster cam and grandpa scarer. Yes, they all work :)

See more in our resources section.

Huge thanks to Sam and Scott from Saladhouse for their hard work on this – and also to our voice actors Arthur (son of Pi co-founder Pete Lomas) and Maia! And yes, that’s Eben narrating.

IMG_0908 IMG_0910 IMG_0918 2014-07-04 20.01.22
A little gift I brought Dave back from Memphis...

A little gift I brought Dave back from Memphis…

12 Sep 06:03

Google – Method in the madness

by windsorr

RFM AvatarSmall

 

 

 

 

 

iOS still makes more money for Google than Android does.

  • Android may dominate the statistics when it comes to unit shipments and number of users, but iOS remains critical to Google’s revenues from mobile.
  • This is why it will continue to ensure that the user experience of its apps on iOS is as good as it can make it.
  • The latest is the announcement by Google of iOS sync which is part of its efforts to provide companies who use Google to run their companies, with an enterprise grade service.
  • This obviously flies right in the face of Android for work which is Google’s strategy to reform Android into an enterprise class platform for companies but there is method in the madness.
  • iOS sync allows companies to control the Google apps on iOS and to make document storage on Google drive seamless and secure.
  • This is all part of Google’s strategy to ensure that its ecosystem works just as well on iOS as it does on Android.
  • Of the 58 apps that currently make up the Google ecosystem, at least 17 are available for iOS and these are the main apps that make up its Digital Life offering.
  • Google has a love / hate relationship with iOS.
  • On the one hand it derives 52% (2014E) of its mobile advertising revenues from iOS devices but on the other it knows that Apple will wipe it from its devices as soon as it can afford to do so.
  • This is the biggest threat to Google’s current growth in my view as losing revenues from iOS would bring medium-term revenue growth to well below 10%.
  • All it can do is to ensure that Apple can never afford to remove it from its devices for fear of annoying its users and seeing them defect.
  • This is why Google will continue to develop its Digital Life service for iOS to the best of its ability.
  • If Apple can develop its own services to a point where users are happy to switch over, then it will be in a position to remove Google from its ecosystem but not before.
  • This is a very long way from happening but importantly Google is not resting on its laurels and continues developing to stay ahead.
  • Consequently, Google offers one of the securest growth stories among the ecosystem players and with Yahoo! and Microsoft, it remains top of my list.

 

12 Sep 06:30

The Irrelevance Of Friending

by Richard Millington

For the majority of communities, the act of 'friending' someone makes no difference upon their level of participation. 

These are some exceptions. Communities based around the follow feature, for example. You have to follow people to see anything in these communities. 

These are rare.

For most communities, trying to encourage people to add each other as friends is a waste of time. If you can remove the feature, remove it. 

It will come as no surprise that real friendships aren't developed by such technical innovations. They come from frequent shared contact, shared history/activities, and reciprocated self-disclosure. 

Sadly, for academics, these are more difficult to study. 


On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

http://sprint.feverbee.com

12 Sep 03:08

I Thought I Hated the New Atheists. Then I Read Sam Harris’s New Book.

By Trevor Quirk

Go to article

image

11 Sep 03:57

Sleepwalking Toward Armageddon

ISIS

In his speech responding to the horrific murder of journalist James Foley by a British jihadist, President Obama delivered the following rebuke (using an alternate name for ISIS):

ISIL speaks for no religion… and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt…. we will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for. May God bless and keep Jim’s memory. And may God bless the United States of America.

In his subsequent remarks outlining a strategy to defeat ISIS, the President declared:

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim…. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way…. May God bless our troops, and may God bless the United States of America.

As an atheist, I cannot help wondering when this scrim of pretense and delusion will be finally burned away—either by the clear light of reason or by a surfeit of horror meted out to innocents by the parties of God. Which will come first, flying cars and vacations to Mars, or a simple acknowledgment that beliefs guide behavior and that certain religious ideas—jihad, martyrdom, blasphemy, apostasy—reliably lead to oppression and murder? It may be true that no faith teaches people to massacre innocents exactly—but innocence, as the President surely knows, is in the eye of the beholder. Are apostates “innocent”? Blasphemers? Polytheists? Islam has the answer, and the answer is “no.”

More British Muslims have joined the ranks of ISIS than have volunteered to serve in the British armed forces. In fact, this group has managed to attract thousands of recruits from free societies throughout the world to help build a paradise of repression and sectarian slaughter in Syria and Iraq. This is an astonishing phenomenon, and it reveals some very uncomfortable truths about the failures of multiculturalism, the inherent vulnerability of open societies, and the terrifying power of bad ideas.

No doubt many enlightened concerns will come flooding into the reader’s mind at this point. I would not want to create the impression that most Muslims support ISIS, nor would I want to give any shelter or inspiration to the hatred of Muslims as people. In drawing a connection between the doctrine of Islam and jihadist violence, I am talking about ideas and their consequences, not about 1.5 billion nominal Muslims, many of whom do not take their religion very seriously.

But a belief in martyrdom, a hatred of infidels, and a commitment to violent jihad are not fringe phenomena in the Muslim world. These preoccupations are supported by the Koran and numerous hadith. That is why the popular Saudi cleric Mohammad Al-Areefi sounds like the ISIS army chaplain. The man has 9.5 million followers on Twitter (twice as many as Pope Francis has). If you can find an important distinction between the faith he preaches and that which motivates the savagery of ISIS, you should probably consult a neurologist.

Understanding and criticizing the doctrine of Islam—and finding some way to inspire Muslims to reform it—is one of the most important challenges the civilized world now faces. But the task isn’t as simple as discrediting the false doctrines of Muslim “extremists,” because most of their views are not false by the light of scripture. A hatred of infidels is arguably the central message of the Koran. The reality of martyrdom and the sanctity of armed jihad are about as controversial under Islam as the resurrection of Jesus is under Christianity. It is not an accident that millions of Muslims recite the shahadah or make pilgrimage to Mecca. Neither is it an accident that horrific footage of infidels and apostates being decapitated has become a popular form of pornography throughout the Muslim world. Each of these practices, including this ghastly method of murder, find explicit support in scripture.

But there is now a large industry of obfuscation designed to protect Muslims from having to grapple with these truths. Our humanities and social science departments are filled with scholars and pseudo-scholars deemed to be experts in terrorism, religion, Islamic jurisprudence, anthropology, political science, and other diverse fields, who claim that where Muslim intolerance and violence are concerned, nothing is ever what it seems. Above all, these experts claim that one can’t take Islamists and jihadists at their word: Their incessant declarations about God, paradise, martyrdom, and the evils of apostasy are nothing more than a mask concealing their real motivations. What are their real motivations? Insert here the most abject hopes and projections of secular liberalism: How would you feel if Western imperialists and their mapmakers had divided your lands, stolen your oil, and humiliated your proud culture? Devout Muslims merely want what everyone wants—political and economic security, a piece of land to call home, good schools for their children, a little leisure to enjoy the company of friends. Unfortunately, most of my fellow liberals appear to believe this. In fact, to not accept this obscurantism as a deep insight into human nature and immediately avert one’s eyes from the teachings of Islam is considered a form of bigotry.

In any conversation on this topic, one must continually deploy a firewall of caveats and concessions to irrelevancy: Of course, U.S. foreign policy has problems. Yes, we really must get off oil. No, I did not support the war in Iraq. Sure, I’ve read Chomsky. No doubt, the Bible contains equally terrible passages. Yes, I heard about that abortion clinic bombing in 1984. No, I’m sorry to say that Hitler and Stalin were not motivated by atheism. The Tamil Tigers? Of course, I’ve heard of them. Now can we honestly talk about the link between belief and behavior?

Yes, many Muslims happily ignore the apostasy and blasphemy of their neighbors, view women as the moral equals of men, and consider anti-Semitism contemptible. But there are also Muslims who drink alcohol and eat bacon. All of these persuasions run counter to the explicit teachings of Islam to one or another degree. And just like moderates in every other religion, most moderate Muslims become obscurantists when defending their faith from criticism. They rely on modern, secular values—for instance, tolerance of diversity and respect for human rights—as a basis for reinterpreting and ignoring the most despicable parts of their holy books. But they nevertheless demand that we respect the idea of revelation, and this leaves us perpetually vulnerable to more literal readings of scripture.

The idea that any book was inspired by the creator of the universe is poison—intellectually, ethically, and politically. And nowhere is this poison currently doing more harm than in Muslim communities, East and West. Despite all the obvious barbarism in the Old Testament, and the dangerous eschatology of the New, it is relatively easy for Jews and Christians to divorce religion from politics and secular ethics. A single line in Matthew—“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”—largely accounts for why the West isn’t still hostage to theocracy. The Koran contains a few lines that could be equally potent—for instance, “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256)—but these sparks of tolerance are easily snuffed out. Transforming Islam into a truly benign faith will require a miracle of re-interpretation. And a few intrepid reformers, such as Maajid Nawaz, are doing their best to accomplish it.

Many believe it unwise to discuss the link between Islam and the intolerance and violence we see in the Muslim world, fearing that it will increase the perception that the West is at war with the faith and cause millions of otherwise peaceful Muslims to rally to the jihadist cause. I admit that this concern isn’t obviously crazy—but it merely attests to the seriousness of the underlying problem. Religion produces a perverse solidarity that we must find some way to undercut. It causes in-group loyalty and out-group hostility, even when members of one’s own group are behaving like psychopaths.

But it remains taboo in most societies to criticize a person’s religious beliefs. Even atheists tend to observe this taboo, and enforce it on others, because they believe that religion is necessary for many people. After all, life is difficult—and faith is a balm. Most people imagine that Iron Age philosophy represents the only available vessel for their spiritual hopes and existential concerns. This is an enduring problem for the forces of reason, because the most transformative experiences people have—bliss, devotion, self-transcendence—are currently anchored to the worst parts of culture and to ways of thinking that merely amplify superstition, self-deception, and conflict.

Among all the harms caused by religion at this point in history, this is perhaps the most subtle:  Even when it appears beneficial—inspiring people to gather in beautiful buildings to contemplate the mystery existence and their ethical commitments to one another—religion conveys the message that there is no intellectually defensible and nonsectarian way to do this. But there is. We can build strong communities and enjoy deeply moral and spiritual lives, without believing any divisive nonsense about the divine origin of specific books.

And it is this misguided respect for revelation that explains why, in response to the starkest conceivable expression of religious fanaticism, President Obama has responded with euphemisms—and missiles. This may be the best we can hope for, given the state of our discourse about religion. Perhaps one day we will do “everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for.” But today, we won’t even honestly describe the motivations of our enemies. And in the act of lying to ourselves, we continue to pay lip service to the very delusions that empower them.

12 Sep 02:19

"Despite all the “get girls into code”-type programs, there is so much gatekeeping around the..."

“Despite all the “get girls into code”-type programs, there is so much gatekeeping around the field—from the guidance counselor who discourages female students from going into CS [computer science] to classmates and professors who question women students’ abilities at every turn.”

- Leigh Honeywell, in our latest 'Me IRL' interview for Kernel Magazine's DIY issue (via dailydot)
11 Sep 15:58

Here’s to You, Macworld

by Paul Kafasis

After the Apple festivities of Tuesday, yesterday brought some much more somber news. It seems the physical Macworld magazine will cease publication, and Macworld.com will be run with a greatly-reduced staff. There’s not even an official announcement on this, but many now-former Macworld staffers have tweeted about their layoffs, and former editor-in-chief Jason Snell has posted his own related news. Ultimately, nearly all of the folks we’ve interacted with at Macworld have been let go from the company.

This is a sad day. Macworld has been a staple of the past thirty years even as the publishing industry contracted. It will be very strange indeed to no longer find the magazine in print. And while Macworld.com will live on, and perhaps even remain great under the direction of Chris Breen, it has lost nearly all of the people who provided top-notch writing, reviews, and in-depth coverage. This was some of the best writing and reporting in the Apple industry, and it will be sorely missed.

Rogue Amoeba has had far too many friends at Macworld magazine to properly list them all. Way back at Macworld Expo San Francisco in 2004, Jim Dalrymple awarded Nicecast with a Best of Show award. Dan Frakes twice awarded Airfoil with a stellar 4.5 mouse rating. Dan Moren, Chris Breen, Jason Snell, Serenity Caldwell, and many more said kind things, recommended our work, and even presented us with three Editor’s Choice awards. It’s impossible to express how incredibly gratifying it was to have our work honored by people we respect so deeply. Every time our name was mentioned in print or on the web site, it really was a thrill.

For years, Macworld set the standard for Mac journalism, and the volume of talent that is presently unemployed is simply obscene. There’s little doubt that these talented folks will quickly find new opportunities. I only hope that many of them will remain in the Apple space, so that we can continue to benefit from their work for years to come.

11 Sep 23:12

Here are the 2-year contract prices for the iPhone 6 & iPhone 6 Plus

by Ian Hardy

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available tomorrow to pre-order through a number of carriers: Rogers, Fido, Bell, Virgin, TELUS, Koodo, MTS, SaskTel. The no-term prices start at $749, and retailers like Best Buy, Future Shop and The Source are also preparing to take orders before releasing on September 19th.


Update: iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus pre-orders are now live in Canada. More info here with updated carrier info and pricing.


The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus will be available in silver, gold and Space Grey. The prices of both models are listed below with the various internal storage options:

iPhone 6 (no term):
– 16GB: $749
– 64GB: $859
– 128GB: $969

iPhone 6 Plus (no term):
– 16GB: $859
– 64GB: $969
– 128GB: $1,079

The 2-year contract prices have yet to be officially released, but our sources gave us the following information:

iPhone 6 (Bell and Virgin):
– 16GB: $259.95 (Virgin is $0.04 higher)
– 64GB: $369.95 (Virgin is $0.04 higher)
– 128GB: $479.95 (Virgin is $0.04 higher)

iPhone 6 (TELUS):
– 16GB: $265
– 64GB: $375
– 128GB: $485

iPhone 6 Plus (Bell and Virgin):
– 16GB: $369.95 (Virgin is $0.04 higher)
– 64GB: $479.95 (Virgin is $0.04 higher)
– 128GB: $589.95 (Virgin is $0.04 higher)

iPhone 6 Plus (TELUS):
– 16GB: $375
– 64GB: $485
– 128GB: $595

Of course until Apple, carriers and retailers go live with pre-orders, these prices could change. TELUS will reportedly go live at 3:00am ET and Bell at 7:30am ET. In addition, the Rogers Reservation System — and Fido — will open at 5am EST.

(Thanks to everyone who sent this in)

11 Sep 22:34

The Graphic Continuum: a thought-starting poster for visualizing data

The Graphic Continuum: a thought-starting poster for visualizing data:

datajournalismlinks:

The Graphic Continuum is Jon Schwabish view of the many different types of visualizations available to us when we encode and present data. It exists out of 90 graphics across five main categories: Distribution, Time, Comparing Categories, Geospatial, Part-to-Whole, and Relationships. You can use the poster to develop ideas, consider different options, or simply as a piece of art - it’s not include all vistypes but doesn’t need to. It’s just a thought-starter.

11 Sep 22:45

A Quick Measure of Sortedness

by Steve Hanov
How do you measure the "sortedness" of a list? There are several ways. In the literature this measure is called the "distance to monotonicity" or the "measure of disorder" depending on who you read. It is still an active area of research when items are presented to the algorithm one at a time. In this article, I consider the simpler case where you can look at all of the items at once.

The Kendall distance between two lists is the number of swaps it would take to turn one list into another. So, for [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] and [10, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9], it would take nine swaps.

Edit distance is another method. We could take the 10, and move it after the 9, in one operation. The edit distance is inversely related to the longest increasing subsequence. In the list [1, 2, 3, 5, 4, 6, 7, 9, 8], the longest increasing subsequence is [1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9], of length seven, and it is three away from being a sorted list. The longest increasing subsequence can be calculated in O(nlogn) time. A drawback of this method is its large granularity. For a list of ten elements, the measure can only take the distinct values 0 through 9.

Here, I propose another measure for sortedness. The procedure is to sum the difference between the position of each element in the sorted list, x, and where it ends up in the unsorted list, f(x). We divide by the square of the length of the list and multiply by two, because this gives us a nice number between 0 and 1. Subtracting from 1 makes it range from 0, for completely unsorted, to 1, for completely sorted.

A simple genetic algorithm in python for sorting a list using the above fitness function is presented below.

import random

def procreate(A):
    A = A[:]
    first = random.randint(0, len(A) - 1)
    second = random.randint(0, len(A) - 1)
    A[first], A[second] = A[second], A[first]
    return A

def score(A):
    diff = 0.
    for index, element in enumerate(A):
        diff += abs(index - element)

    return 1.0 - diff / len(A) ** 2 * 2

def genetic(root, procreateFn, scoreFn, generations = 1000, children=6):
    maxScore = 0.
    for i in range(generations):
        print("Generation {0}: {1} {2}".format(i, maxScore, root))
        maxChild = None
        for j in range(children):
            child = procreate(root)
            score = scoreFn(child)
            print("    child score {0:.2f}: {1}".format(score, child))
            if maxScore 

Note that under this metric, the completely reversed list has a score of 0.0, but many other permutations do as well.

11 Sep 21:52

A Watch Guy’s Thoughts On The Apple Watch

by Federico Viticci

The Apple Watch can take an integrated strap or bracelet, or one with wire lugs. It totally changes the look of the watch, and swapping them couldn't be any easier. Changing straps is one thing, but the attention to detail on the straps and bracelets themselves is downright incredible, and when I mentioned above that nothing comes close in this price range, it is very visible when talking about straps.

I've argued that the Apple Watch is first and foremost a watch. Benjamin Clymer has a great analysis of Apple's announcement from the perspective of a “watch guy” with a deep expertise in this field.

∞ Read this on MacStories

11 Sep 17:29

Confidence Scores

by SHansen

Tips for Understanding Scores when Tagging Images and Documents

By Devin Harper, AI Research Scientist

The world is constantly uploading photos to the internet. By the same token, news articles and blog posts are written and posted to the web around the clock. Clearly, there is an ever-growing need to have automated systems tag these documents and images for us. Having a way to provide keywords for text and photos without human involvement can be a massive game-changer for someone interested in aggregating relevant topics in news outlets or categorizing very large libraries of pictures.

Here at AlchemyAPI, we have solutions to these problems! Users of AlchemyLanguage and AlchemyVision have already seen the power of quickly and reliably extracting keywords out of paragraphs and/or pixels. But, this begs the question: what do we mean by “reliable?”

For demonstration purposes, let’s consider the image below. What are some good tags (or keywords) for this picture? Don’t overthink this one...

iPhone input to AlchemyVision

If you said “iPhone” and “Apple,” most people would agree with you. As it turns out, AlchemyVision would also agree with you! See the output of our image tagging API for this photo:

AlchemyVision output

JSON output from AlchemyVision’s Image Tagging API. Nailed it.

AlchemyVision takes simple tagging a step further by associating a “confidence score” between 0 and 1 (1 being the most confident) with each tag.

Note how different these two scores are. The confidence of “iphone” is significantly higher than that of “apple.” Why? If we know that this is an iPhone, don’t we also know that it is an Apple product? Shouldn’t we be equally confident in those terms as appropriate tags for this image?

The thing about these scores is that they do not necessarily demonstrate the correctness of a particular tag, but rather they indicate how appropriate the tag is for a given image. In the example above, “iphone” and “apple” are both correct tags for the picture. However, it turns out that “iphone” is actually a better fit, which is why we see such a large difference between these scores.

While there is no silver bullet for selecting the number of terms or tags to associate with your images, you can turn the knobs yourself. Figure out the appropriate thresholds of scores for your image tagging purposes. As a general rule of thumb, a score of 0.9 or higher with AlchemyVision signifies that a tag that is pretty spot-on.

Also, for text analysis features like entity extraction and concept tagging, relevance scores are calculated for each entity or keyword in a document. The relevance score depicts the significance of each unique term, in a similar vein to the confidence scores returned in image tagging. The higher the relevance score, the more important that term to the central meaning of the document.

As tags can be subjective, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the outputs of our analysis engines by test driving the AlchemyLanguage and AlchemyVision demos. If you’d like to run more in-depth testing with some of your images and documents, download a free API Key and get started today.

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11 Sep 19:21

iPhone 6 Screens Demystified

by Federico Viticci

Few days ago, Apple introduced iPhone 6 Plus. The new iPhone substantially changes the way graphics are rendered on screen. We've made an infographic to demystify this.

Over the past two days, I've seen a lot of designers and developers ask questions about the new screens in the iPhone 6. The folks at PaintCode have posted a useful guide to understand the new resolutions. I'd be curious to know how the Display Zoom feature works, though.

∞ Read this on MacStories

11 Sep 19:45

Google announces new set of Android apps for Chromebooks

by Evan Selleck
In June of this year, at the Google I/O conference, the search giant showed off what the future of Android and Chromebooks looks like. Namely, more compatibility, specifically for Android apps to work on the laptops. Now, the company has officially unveiled the first batch of apps. Continue reading →
11 Sep 18:42

First set of Android apps for Chromebooks

by Rui Carmo
Click on the image to zoom in

Not having Evernote on a Chromebook was a major put-off. Not anymore…


11 Sep 04:15

Cycling to Asylum: upcoming book launch in Kensington Market

by tammy

“Traveling by bicycle makes you aware of your vulnerability… You can feel the air on your skin, hot or cold, smell car exhausts and bitter asphalt as well as lilacs and baking bread. You’re free; you can get out of tight spots, but you have to rely on your strength as well as your reflexes.” - Su J. Sokol

Story by Jenna Campbell

Author and cyclist Su J. Sokol will be reading excerpts and signing copies of her new book, Cycling to Asylum, at Handlebar in Kensington Market on Sept. 23.

Following will be a moderated discussion about what a Toronto cycle utopia would look like. Admission is free and the event begins at 8 p.m.

Cycling to Asylum begins in a futuristic New York where a family flees on bicycle to seek refugee status in Quebec. The story alternates between four family members’ perspectives.

On Sokol’s website she writes, “Biking is a very immediate, intimate experience and this is the kind of story that this is. It is why the story not only has four different points of view but is told in the present tense.”

The book addresses the physical and mental validity of borders — from markings on a map to one’s identity. As described in a recent review, the book questions what keeps borders in place, “those invisible lines that mark landscape, bodies and even, ideas.”

Sokol characterizes her writing as boundary crossing and “interstitial.” Neither entirely science fiction nor entirely literary fiction, Sokol weaves between genre categories.

RSVP here and visit Sokol’s website for more information.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

Rack’n'Roll: Bike parking in Toronto not keeping pace

Register early for Complete Streets forum 2014

Top 5 bike plans in other cities

Bike spotting on Augusta: What is your favourite part of summer biking in Kensington?

Bike spotting on Augusta: Do you want more bike parking?

11 Sep 19:02

Interesting Vancouver 2014 is coming!

by Mark Busse

We’re excited to be supporting Interesting Vancouver on November 7th at SFU Woodward’s this year.

Interesting Vancouver is an annual community event showcasing the Metro Vancouver’s most fascinating people and the way they express their creativity through their interesting hobbies, passions and obsessions. More than another “sage on the stage” lecture series, Interesting Vancouver is an inclusive event that celebrates the uncelebrated, expands the collective vision of what is uniquely possible, and gives people an opportunity to discover interesting new creative pursuits they can apply in their own lives.

Here are a few teasers from past favourites, but there are links to videos of past speakers from the past six years on their website www.interestingvancouver.com

The post Interesting Vancouver 2014 is coming! appeared first on Industrial Brand.

11 Sep 18:23

Alex on Developing for the Apple Watch

Alex Vollmer, A New Future?:

This is going to sound funny, but I think the tactile pulsing feature of the Apple Watch is one of its most intriguing. It got me thinking about how, paired with the right software, it could be a fantastic way to teach a wearer certain timing-related skills…

As a musician, that pulsing action might make for a great silent metronome. Instead of playing along with a monotonous click, you could simply time your playing with the watch's pulse. Music teachers always talk about “feeling the groove,” this would make it a literal reality.

11 Sep 17:57

Pablo on the Apple Event

Pablo Bendersky, Apple Watch Event Thoughts:

While iOS 7 and 8 have a visual style that do not require pixel perfect mockups, iOS 7 was touted as designed for retina displays, and the recommendation was to use retina assets (like 1px lines) which might not look good on the 6 Plus.

I would think that every programmer thinks in powers of two — more so than in powers of ten. (Is 100 a round number? Hell no. But 64 is.)

The @3x thing makes me feel like one of those computers in the original Star Trek that Kirk destroys by feeding it bad input. Does. Not. Compute. Can’t. Divide. Three. By. Two. Help. Me.

Pop. Bang. Fizz. Lights out.

(Okay. I’ll adapt.)

11 Sep 18:49

Here’s the list of Canadian financial institutions, carriers and manufacturers working together on NFC mobile payments

by Daniel Bader

Earlier this week, Apple announced its upcoming mobile payment solution, Apple Pay, rolling out in the U.S. this October.

Canada already has a fairly robust mobile payment ecosystem, though not all the participants play nicely together. We thought we’d round up a list of carriers, financial institutions and manufacturers working together on mobile payments.

The list below presumes you a few things:

  • You have a Visa PayWave or MasterCard PayPass credit card issued from one of the participating banks or credit unions
  • You have a secure SIM card purchased one of the participating carriers
  • You have an NFC-compatible compatible Android or BlackBerry smartphone (see list below)
  • You are shopping at a retail store with an NFC-compatible touchless payment terminal (ie. PayPass or PayWave support)

With this ecosystem in place, it seems possible that Apple Pay would eventually be integrated into the Canadian mobile banking ecosystem, though the institutions would have to cede some control to Apple. Apple Pay works outside of a bank’s traditional mobile app: if an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus is held up to a payment terminal at a participating merchant, the process begins automatically.

Here’s a video from iMore showing how Apple Pay uses NFC to detect proximity to a touchless payment terminal to automatically prompt users to authenticate using Touch ID to pay for items in-store.

11 Sep 18:39

People in Charge of Transit Systems Should Be Required to Ride Transit

by Stephen Rees

It sounds very basic and obvious: in most service businesses the executives are expected to directly experience what their customers experience. There is an article in Atlantic’s City Lab by Eric Jaffe on just this issue for transit.

I will as always remind readers that it is now ten years since I worked for Translink. It may be that since I left, things have changed. I hope so.

When I joined what was then BC Transit I was very pleased to be handed my free transit pass. I have been a transit user all my life. That of course is not at all unusual in Britain, for someone whose father was a teacher. I grew up using buses and trains for the majority of my travel needs. Once I started work I was more often than not a commuter and location decisions were often prompted by the quality of the available commute options. And that was not unusual in London. Most of my colleagues used public transport every day, and even many of the senior people did too. It was only the VIPs who got parking spaces allocated to them. That was the mark of their importance. The really top people got a driver and a car too.

When I came to Toronto in 1988 it was to work on transit issues as a consultant. My bosses at the consulting company were distinctly bemused to learn I was getting to work on the Sheppard Avenue bus. Later on I changed companies, and could ride GO Transit to their downtown office. The idea of driving to work there never occurred to me. Pretty much the same applied when I came to Victoria: provincial civil servants could get an annual transit pass paid for through salary deductions, and I discovered for the first time in my life that the people on the bus all talked to each other! We were bus buddies!

Vancouver was different.  I simply could not afford to live anywhere that had decent transit service. I ended up in Richmond on one of the most inconvenient commutes I had ever experienced, requiring at least two transfers no matter which route I used. Service was spotty at best. I found that people at work were of two kinds: those who had moved to be near a SkyTrain station, and those who drove – or car pooled. The few who commuted from Richmond to Gateway were regarded as transit enthusiasts and thus highly suspect.

I actually got into trouble when I went to meetings outside the office, as I used those trips as a way to discover more about the network. I was told that this was not a good use of my time and that I should use one of the pool cars provided. Especially if I was going out to any kind of municipal meeting.

Jordan Bateman of course has made a career about criticising Translink’s management pay and benefits. We do not hear as much these days about the use of cars. At one time Derek Corrigan’s Saab came in for a fair amount of stick. But my commute was transformed when I joined a carpool. There was much less expectation about flexibility of start and finish times. I was not going to get in early or stay late as I would miss my ride. And the in-car conversation proved invaluable for understanding interdepartmental politics. The carpool was a welcome change from the policy silo.

I was persuaded to add cycling as a commute mode, at least in good weather. The car pool car could accomodate my bike in the trunk one way, or there were increasing numbers of buses fitted with bike racks to overcome the uphill or cross river parts of the route.

When I did use transit, what I also discovered was that I was much better advised to keep my head down, and not get involved. I was “off duty” – but nevertheless could not fail to notice things. What I could not do, of course, was do anything to affect those things. The SkyTrain was automated. The bus system tightly controlled by the Union. And when we set up the new regional system we created operating companies to be separate from the central planning and administration office.

“the whole thing was essentially designed by people who were used to seeing the world through the windshield of a car,”

I think that still must be true of most of the people who make decisions at the top. Do you see Ian Jarvis on the bus much? Or any of the members of the Translink Board? Not that they have any kind of public profile: I cannot name any of them without going and looking it up, let alone recognize them. And as anyone who has had any experience of using the reporting system on Translink’s web site will testify, there is not much response beyond PR fluff and excuses.


Filed under: Transportation
11 Sep 17:39

This Acquisition Makes Total Sense

Jared Sinclair, Unread is Now a Supertop App:

I’m proud of the work I put into Unread, and can’t wait to see what Supertop does with the foundation I laid down. Unread has the cleanest code I’ve ever written for a personal project, so I’m hopeful that it won’t be a burden for Oisin and Padraig to wander through it.

I admire both Castro and Unread. This looks like a great fit.

11 Sep 18:00

Why wasn’t accepted for event X ? I’m an active contributor already. (Saying “hello world” the right way)

by nefzaoui

imagine-build-teach

In the Mozilla world, people (mostly from the region I come from, Middle East and North Africa) often ask me “Do you have an idea why wasn’t I accepted to attend the event X ? This is frustrating, I’m an active contributor already and I do this and that..”. This is a very common problem and contributors often miss important chances to attend events or meet persons they think they will influence their entire lives (Yep. Mozillians are heroes in the eyes of other Mozillians) because their work was just.. unnoticed!

This post is more about how to be “visible” you and your contributions than about events. Let’s not forget that we join Mozilla for the mission, not the trips (though nobody hates them ;) )

So after about two and a half years of being a Mozillian, I think it’s fairly the time to share some of what I’ve learned so far about how to be an active contributor and have your work noticed, because you know, sometimes if it doesn’t, it gets lost.

There are few little thingies actually that one might miss but they are key reasons that you’re work or you not being noticed.

Invisibility of contributions

You make the most successful events in town, you even recruit new Mozillians in your country but it never seems to be appreciated? You’re always a second choice? Well you need one little tiny detail in your life. A BLOG, In my opinion, a blog is an absolutely must-have for any Mozillian, Instead of throwing a picture there on Facebook and another on twitter, your blog is where you can document all your events pictures, your hackathons, and your personal opinions (like this one) and pretty much everything else in a very organized way so that anyone can check on.
So what you’re waiting for ? Go start a blog!
PS: Out of all the free blog services, I prefer blogger from Google.
another PS: DON’T FORGET TO LINK YOUR BLOG TO YOUR mozillians.org profile. :)

Unavailability

Have you heard of IRC? You did? But how many times you’ve joined in? If the answer is “rarely” or “never” then you should change that AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, IRC is the main, and I repeat, THE MAIN mean of communication for Mozillians, if you’re not there, trust me, you’re missing 90% of both the work and fun. IRC is basically a group of channels where every channel has a certain topic and those who join the channels most likely to be working on its topic. For example if a channel is called #remo, it has most of the Mozilla Representatives, mentors and council members.
There’s a pretty long list of channels, go ahead and join the ones you’re interested in; and here’s the complete list of channels that might be useful to you.

Here’s also how to join Mozilla IRC server and channels (same link for the channels).
PS: Don’t forget to join your community’s channel too, if your community doesn’t have one, make sure to talk to them and tell them how IRC is important for us and that they should have one, at least to welcome newcomers and people trying to invite your community to their events.

Social, the wrong way

So you’re social? Cool! That’s another way of showing what you do as a Mozillian, but the thing is.. You might be doing it the wrong way by posting your contribution results and pics on your Facebook profile with posts’ privacy set to “friends only”. Well, in a nutshell, most Mozillians use twitter when it comes to being social, I personally find it easier in terms of finding things, and this is why you should use it too, and post your blog posts and pics there, because you can just add hashtags to your tweets, and everyone who’s searching for that hashtag will find your tweet. Say you’ve had a local event about Firefox, tweeting with #Firefox as a hashtag will make it easier for people to find the content, read through it and share it.

 

Of course these are not the only solutions for such issue, there are also mailing lists and way others, but the bottom line is, nobody hates to feel secure, safe and surrounded by the big Mozilla family. Visibility of community members is just another way to feel encouraged to give more. :)

11 Sep 00:29

Maker Festival Manila 2014 This Weekend!

by Robert "Bob" Reyes
See you at the Glorietta 5 Atrium this coming Saturday and Sunday (13th and 14th). Stay awesome.… Read the rest