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03 Feb 12:02

Astro Pi: Mission Update 8 – ISS Deployment

by David Honess

Astro_Pi_Logo_WEB

Ed and Izzy

On Monday this week we released the first of four short cartoons that tell the story of the Astro Pi mission. Part 1 introduces Ed and Izzy, the two Astro Pi flight units that are up in space right now.

You may recognise the voice-over: it’s TV science presenter Fran Scott from Absolute Genius and How to be Epic. Thanks Fran!

The Story of Astro Pi (Part 1)

British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake has joined the crew of the International Space Station for Mission Principia – and two specially equipped and tested Raspberry Pi computers are there with him. Find out more at https://astro-pi.org/about/mission/. Narration by Fran Scott: http://franscott.co.uk/

The idea to anthropomorphise the Astro Pis came from Tim Peake himself. He was a fan of what ESA had done previously with Rosetta and Philae’s social media accounts, and felt that this would be a great way to involve young people in the mission.

Ed @astro_pi_vis and Izzy @astro_pi_ir have their own Twitter accounts and will be tweeting about what they’re doing over the coming weeks. They’re named after the real-life friendship between Sir Isaac Newton (Izzy) and Edmond Halley (Ed) which resulted in the publication of the famous 17th-century physics book, Principia Mathematica, after which Tim’s mission is named.

Deployment

On the 4th of January Tim unpacked Ed and took this amazing picture in the Columbus module of the ISS. You can download the original from Tim’s Flickr account.

Tim Peake on Twitter

Look what turned up today…nearly time to start running your code in space! @astro_pi @Raspberry_Pi pic.twitter.com/Dmdjev2BPh

The Astro Pis were originally scheduled to be powered up on the 11th of January; however, it was postponed due to the spacewalks they recently undertook, which rightly take priority over anything educational.

It gives us great pleasure to announce that yesterday Ed was successfully deployed by Tim. He’s powered up and is now running the student experiments that won the 2015 Astro Pi competition.

Ed on Twitter

@astro_timpeake Running Crew Detector code from @cranmerefriends @rdhayler @codeclub

It takes several days to get images back from the ISS because they have to be screened by ESA and NASA for crew privacy reasons. So keep an eye on Tim’s social media accounts over the next few days for pictures of Ed online and working!

Ed is running most of the experiments, but the others will be run by Izzy who will be deployed in the Harmony node of the ISS on February 15th. Izzy needs to look through a hatch window, as she’ll be taking infrared pictures of the Earth – there are no windows in Columbus.

If you enjoy watching the ISS Live Stream you may be able to spot them from time to time!

Flight Data Analysis

Once Ed and Izzy have finished running their student experiments, they will each begin a long-term ISS environmental monitoring experiment that you can all take part in.

They’ll enter a flight recorder mode where they save sensor readings to their own databases every ten seconds. Because the sensor readings are taken so often, there will be masses of data to search through, so we need your help to look through the data and find out what was going on. There could be strange, unexplained things, or just the normal day-to-day activities of the astronauts.

Check out the resource for this below. The data will not be available for several weeks yet, but there is some sample data here for you to practice with.

Astro Pi Flight Data Analysis | Raspberry Pi Learning Resources

Do strange, unexplained things happen on the International Space Station? With this resource you can help us find out. The Astro Pis will be watching… The two Astro Pi flight computers on board the ISS are programmed to run the competition-winning programs as part of an automatic sequence.

New Coding Challenge

It also gives us great pleasure to announce two new coding challenges, where the prize is to have your code uploaded and run by Ed or Izzy in space!

That’s right – your code in space!

The first requires you to write Python Sense HAT code to turn Ed and Izzy into an MP3 player, so that Tim can plug in his headphones and listen to music. The second requires you to code Sonic Pi music for Tim to listen to via the MP3 player. You may enter both challenges if you wish.

Head over to the Astro Pi website now, where you’ll find out everything you need to know.

2016 Coding Challenges – Astro Pi

We are pleased to announce that, from today (03/02/2016), we are running a new set of coding challenges for the Astro Pi mission. There are currently two challenges on offer. What do I have to do? To take part you’ll need to pick a challenge from the list below, read through what’s required, and then …

The post Astro Pi: Mission Update 8 – ISS Deployment appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

06 Feb 16:44

Recommended on Medium: Why I’m Leaving Twitter

06 Feb 16:42

Twitter Algorithms

by Rob Campbell

Did you like this?

This week’s tempest in a tweetpot is bubbling over because Twitter has announced they’re going to replace the current chronological stream we all know and love with a Facebook-like “algorithm-based timeline”. Naturally, people being people, the standard reaction is “OMG NO! CHANGE WE FEAR IT WTF!!!” followed by a stream of eggplant and hotdog emojis hitting a monkey in the face.

Speculation ensues.

There is some validity to this concern. Journos rely on Twitter for up-to-date information for breaking news. This becomes problematic if the timeline isn’t accessible directly, and it would be a strong move if they made that available by subscription to everyone. It used to be possible for news organizations to pay for high speed access to their datastream, though I’m not sure if they still offer that. Certainly not for mortal humans. Then again, if most of Twitter continues to work the way it does now, and searches are visible via the current livestream mechanism, this concern won’t be a big deal because you’ll find the hashtag in your “Breaking” or “Trending” section, click on it and see the full stream.

Using Twitter as a mechanism for social activism is problematic. The 140 character limit isn’t enough to write anything meaningful and the kernel gets reduced to a hashtag. If it becomes popular, that hashtag soon gets flooded, sometimes obscuring the original message. At least you can save it for later. Obscuring the timeline behind an algorithm could have a chilling effect on Twitter as an activism tool and the conspiracy-minded might be wondering if that’s one of the real reasons behind it.

I think this is the crux of the problem: If you don’t know how the algorithm works and how it can be tuned by the people running it, then you have no guarantees you’re seeing what you want to see. Remember when Google started tailoring search results for people based on their “preferences”? There was a brief outcry against that but now it’s no big deal that your search results and mine don’t show the same thing when we search for “local preowned medical instruments”.

Some have recommended switching to using Lists to view the timeline as it is now. It’s a feature most people don’t use, myself included, but may end up being a sneaky way around the new algorithmic features. Still others are advocating for the creation of a distributed, publicly-controlled Twitter alternative. (Remember identi.ca? App.net? No?) These services tend not to do very well, get sparsely populated by whatever self-selecting subgroups find them first and then die slow lingering deaths of irrelevancy. Maybe they were ahead of their time and we’re ready for something like that, but good luck moving a jillion people to a new service.

Maybe it won’t be horrible! Maybe everybody’s just getting freaked-out for no reason! It’s just Twitter, people. The vast majority of it is completely uninteresting to the vast majority of the population. It’s for marketing and funny pictures and vines (ha) and occasionally for tracking breaking news. Will I miss individuals’ late night, can’t sleep tweets or today’s sandwich? Maybe, maybe not. Twitter is a forgettable service 99% of the time. When I take time off to disconnect, one of the things I always realize is just how much I don’t miss it.

#RIPTwitter

05 Feb 20:48

http://blog.madsencycles.com/cargo/2016/02/we-went-to-master-frame-builder-jared-madsen-of-madsen-cycles-in-salt-lake-city-ut-who-retrofitted-his-stock-cargo-bike-with.html

by jared madsen

"We went to master frame builder Jared Madsen of Madsen Cycles in Salt Lake City, UT who retrofitted his stock cargo bike with a steel cage to support the rear-mounted desk."

-Momentum Mag

https://momentummag.com/that-bike-show-the-pedal-powered-talk-show-hits-the-bike-path/

Spokes
05 Feb 00:00

Extending a little thought experiment

files/images/thought-experiments-that-will-melt-your-brain-a-little.jpg


David T. Jones, The Weblog of (a) David Jones, Feb 07, 2016


At what point does something personal - like writing a nice note to congratulate someone - become something impersonal - like writing a script that automatically selects and congratulates people. David Wiley poses this question in a  thought experiment and David T. Jones carries the discussion a bit further. What if it isn't a congratulatory note, but something that sends a note asking people who have stalled whether they need any help? And, ultimately, "What about the apparently holy grail of many to automate the teacher out of the learning experience? Are we fearful that technology will replace teachers? Can technology replace teachers?" Image: PC Mag.

[Link] [Comment]
05 Feb 00:00

Vancouver’s Just10 launches privacy oriented, ad free social network

files/images/Just10.jpg


Terry Dawes, CanTech Letter, Feb 07, 2016


I'm thinking 'no' but I still want to send this along, because the service might succeed after all. "Vancouver-based Just10 has unveiled a new social network that promises to be ad free, to never track your movements for selling to third-party marketers, and to emphasize privacy through end-to-end encryption." The catch? You only get to have 10 friends.

[Link] [Comment]
05 Feb 00:00

On Old School Social Bookmarking

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Alan Levine, CogDogBlog, Feb 07, 2016


Interesting look back at what we used to call 'social bookmarking' - that's where you record the URLs of interesting links and then 'tag' them with meaningful (to you) words and phrases. These bookmarks could be shared, or searched by tag, which made an excellent discovery tool. As Alan Levine notes, it seems to have become less popular. "It’ s one of those brilliant ideas that still make tons of sense yet never really caught on beyond the people who can get compulsive about tagging," he writes. Maybe. But I think what's missing is on the 'read' end - there's no really good way to read what people have found. We depend on things like Twitter and Facebook, and these really deaden the experience.

[Link] [Comment]
05 Feb 19:22

Loopback Is a Winner!

by Paul Kafasis

Loopback IconJust under a month ago, we unveiled our newest application, Loopback. It provides a cable-free way to route audio all around your Mac, between applications and audio devices. Following Loopback’s release a few weeks ago, we’ve been thrilled to receive a great deal of positive feedback about it.

Loopback has been covered in-depth by sites like MacNN and Lifehacker. We’ve also heard from individual users with comments like one proclaiming Loopback an “instant buy” and another which stated that it “fixed their entire workflow”. Best of all are the glowing reviews, such as a fantastic 4.5 mice rating from Macworld and a 9 out of 10 score from MyMac.

Multiple outlets have correctly noted that Loopback isn’t for everyone. As Daring Fireball’s John Gruber said, “This is the sort of app few people need, but for those who need it, it’s a godsend”. If you’re someone who’s looking for the power of a high-end studio mixing board, without the high-end price tag, Loopback is for you. It’s a tremendously powerful tool for podcasters, screencasters, audio techs, and more. If Loopback sounds interesting, click to learn more and download the free trial. We think you’ll be glad you did!

06 Feb 01:48

Artforum about "Data Drift" exhibition (curated by Lev Manovich, Rasa Smite, Raitis Smiths) - article by Martha Buskirk

by Lev Manovich

article about Data Drift in Artforum p1
(high resolution version of page 1)

article about Data Drift in Artforum p2
(high resolution version of page 2)



Data Drift is an exhibition curated by Lev MANOVICH, Rasa SMITE and Raitis SMITS at kim? Contemporary Art Centre in Riga, October 10 – November 22, 2015.

Artforum (February 2016) just published a very nice article about the exhibition written by Marta Burskirk, Professor of Art History and Criticism at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Since Artforum's content is not available online, and a single print issue costs $10 (in U.S.), we offer the scan of the article above. Addition of URLs, underlining and correction for On Broadway details are ours. Click on the images to see them in high resolution on Flickr and read the text.


Introduction to Data Drift written by Manovich:

DATA DRIFT exhibition showcases works by some of the most influential data designers of our time, as well as by artists who use data as their artistic medium. How can we use the data medium to represent our complex societies, going beyond "most popular," and "most liked"? How can we organize the data drifts that structure our lives to reveal meaning and beauty? How to use big data to "make strange," so we can see past and present as unfamiliar and new?

If painting was the art of the classical era, and photograph that of the modern era, data visualization is the medium of our own time. Rather than looking at the outside worldwide and picturing it in interesting ways like modernist artists (Instagram filters already do this well), data designers and artists are capturing and reflecting on the new data realities of our societies.


Full list of projects and artists shown in Data Drift:

COMPUTERS WATCHING MOVIES (Benjamin Grosser, 2013)

ON BROADWAY (Daniel Goddemeyer , Moritz Stefaner, Dominikus Baur, Lev Manovich, 2014)

CINEMETRICS (Frederic Brodbeck, 2011)

CULTUREGRAPHY (Kim Albrecht, Boris Müller, Marian Dörk, 2014)

THE RUN (Kristaps Epners, 2015)

THE EXCEPTIONAL AND THE EVERYDAY: 144 HOURS IN KYIV (Lev Manovich, Mehrdad Yazdani, Alise Tifentale, Jay Chow, 2014)

CHARTING CULTURE (Maximilian Schich, Mauro Martino, 2014)

STADTBILDER (Moritz Stefaner, 2013)

U.S. GUN KILLINGS: THE STOLEN YEARS (Periscopic, 2013)

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND (Pitch Interactive, 2013)

BAND 9 (Semiconductor, 2015)

SMART CITIZEN (Smart Citizen Team, 2012-present)

A SENSE OF PLACE (SPIN Unit, 2014-)

TALK TO ME (Rasa Smite, Raitis Smits, Martins Ratniks, 2011–2015)





05 Feb 20:52

When life gives you lemons, make science

by Oliver Keyes

Ever since my writeup on leaving R, my blog has been getting a lot more traffic than usual. Usually this would be fine except it's also resulting in many more comments, and the topic means that a lot of those comments are blathering about whiny SJW babies. Or death threats. 28 of those at the last count.

But, sure, it's the social justice people who are oversensitive and fly off the handle.

My immediate response to the storm of attention was to just apply the kitten setting - and after I got bored of that, the puppy, quokka, rail and guinea pig settings.

Then I remembered that my day job is as a HCI researcher who knows kind of a lot about analysing web data and every commenter had given me the website they came from, the IP address they used, and a comment I could easily hand-code for shittiness.

Accordingly I present my newest feature:

In which Oliver Keyes Sciences the Shit Out of the Arseholes on his Blog

Defining "arseholes"

This isn't a formal study so my definition of arsehole can be basically whatever I want it to be. I settled for any comment which exhibited one of the following traits:

  1. Accused me of lying about everything that had happened to get some benefit that apparently comes alongside threats, harassment and weird emails. Nobody has explained to me what this benefit is but I eagerly await my cheque in the mail from the nefarious SJW cabal apparently causing me to make things up;
  2. Contained threats, goading-towards-suicides, or generally obscene and targeted harassment;
  3. Used terms like "SJW" or "pissbaby" or "whinging" or really anything else that indicated the author had, at best, a tenuous grasp on how the world works;
  4. Was premised on the idea that I was "oversensitive" or "overreacting" which is pretty rich coming from people whose idea of acceptability includes insulting people they've never met on somebody else's website.

So I took this definition and hand-coded the comments and grabbed the data. We ended up with 107 users, of whom a mere 40 weren't arseholes, producing 183 comments in total. Then I worked out their referring site and geolocated their IP address, et voila.

Looking at referers

Every time you make a web request (with some exceptions we won't get into here) browsers send along to the new page or server the place you're coming from. If you click from here to this Wikipedia link, the Wikipedia request logs will show you came from my website.

Similarly, if you come from another site to my website, most of the time I can work out where that other site is. So I took the referers for people leaving comments. Then I turned them into human-readable text, stripped out those referers with fewer than 5 distinct users, and the results look a little something like:

A chart of the probability of commenters being unpleasant, depending on which site they came from

Unsurprisingly, Vox Day's readers are arseholes. Not just some of them, but all of them: every one of them who managed to painfully peck at their keyboard and hit save was a pillock of the highest calibre, contributing absolutely nothing of value to to the conversation.

I was surprised by how low the proportion of arseholes was for Twitter and Facebook. Knowing, as I do, a lot of the sharing that went on, I suspect it's because it was largely done by people who sort of get the whole "not being totally ignorant of anyone who doesn't look like you" thing and, correspondingly, read by networks of people who like those people.

Reddit isn't entirely awful, but honestly when the nicest thing you can say about a site is "the users are not as bad as people who hang on to a racist misogynistic creep's every word"...you're not doing that well.

Wikipediocracy, amusingly, has been discussing this, because sure I don't edit much and this is nothing to do with my job or Wikipedia at all but you can't spell "obsessive creeps" without "obsessive". Their users actually made it into the dataset, but there were too few of them to include in the graph.

Wikipedians will be unsurprised to learn that 100% of Wikipediocracy-sourced commentators were utter shits of only the highest quality. While the population was too small to make it into the dataset, I suspect that this is one tiny sample that is actually generalisable.

If we look at comments instead of the people making them:

A chart of the probability of comments being unpleasant, depending on which site the commenters came from

Twitter comments were shockingly likely to be useful, for which I think we can blame Gavin Simpson (bless you Gavin). Facebook jumped up a bit because apparently scumbags are just more enthusiastic than non-scumbags and so post more. Everyone else looks pretty much the same.

Looking at geography

As well as referers we have IP addresses - and by extension unless people are using proxies we have where they live. To avoid being too creepy (and too specific for useful analysis) I'm just looking at countries:

A chart of the probability of commenters being unpleasant, depending on which country they came from

Most commenters were either super-distributed or super-clustered, so only three countries qualified to get on - all of them, shock horror, primarily English-speaking.

In a continuation of the "water remains wet" theme we started with "wow, Vox Day's readers really are horrible", it turns out Canadians are actually nicer than Americans. It's alright, America, you're nicer than Brits - albeit not by much.

Things look much the same if we look at comments:

A chart of the probability of comments being unpleasant, depending on which country the commenter came from

You know the phrase "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch"? Sorry, Sweden. You have A Shithead, and he's a really prolific one.

Once again, Canadians are super-nice and everyone else sucks, although there's a much bigger difference here. Again, I blame Gavin.

Wrapping up

In summary, we've shown:

  • Vox Day readers are uniformly shitheads;
  • Reddit readers are only mostly shitheads;
  • There are, in fact, some mean Canadians;
  • If you're going to harass people for science bear in mind that they may science your harassment.

Happy browsing to all. And remember, kids: nobody likes total strangers offering their very important opinion about how you are totally wrong. So, please: don't be that stranger.

05 Feb 20:00

Low-light Phone cam

Regular readers will know that I have a thing about low-light photography. My new photo-toy is the Nexus 5X and I’ve the urge to push it further into the dark than it really wants to go.

Southbound approach to the Cambie Bridge

Yes, the wide-angle is bending the building a bit; but it’s getting help from the architect. #Bike2WorkPix. 1/35sec at ISO 725.

I remember, all those years ago, when the original Nikon D3 came out, the first digital camera that could see just as well as you in the dark. They more or less all can, these days.

East False Creek

That’s a little corner of the mighty Pacific.
#Bike2WorkPix, 1/19 sec at ISO 1318.

So, while I still like the shades and textures of dusk and winter, there’s less challenge to it, with a real camera.

West Georgia Street

Vancouver downtown, no HDR! 1/25sec, ISO 452.

Ah, but the Nexus; it can’t go even as far as ISO1600 and it’s not among the select few handsets with optical image stabilization. The lens is said to be F2, which isn’t terrible. So it’s about striving for a steady hand or, better, finding something to brace against or, best, good luck

Community Heating

It’s both a community thermal project and an art piece. #Bike2WorkPix 1/25sec at ISO 970.

But at the end of the day — which is when low-light pix happen — it’s really mostly about finding things that deserve pointing the phone at.

Night train flip phone

The long slow night train from Seattle to Vancouver; this dude had an old-school flip-phone but it supported an active social life, via SMS I imagine. I love this picture. 1/25sec, ISO 1058.

06 Feb 03:26

Khoi Vinh Is Done with MacBooks

by Federico Viticci

Khoi Vinh:

I’ve been using laptops for decades. The first one I ever owned was a PowerBook 3400c, and I’ve never not owned one since then. But now, in contrast to my iPad, my laptop seems altogether much more cumbersome than I prefer to deal with. It’s much, much heavier and bulkier than my iPad, especially when you factor in its power supply and a carrying case.

It’s much more fragile, too—I regularly toss my iPad around in ways that I would never do with my MacBook—and as a result, it’s much less versatile, at least for me. This is partly because the MacBook also restricts my movement; I have to be sitting or standing in a way that accommodates typing, whereas I have so much flexibility with my tablet that I’ve become accustomed to using it while positioned in just about any variant of laying down, sitting, standing or even walking.

He's not done with OS X – an important distinction.

05 Feb 23:10

Re(building) to heal: La Loche, Residential Schools, Reconciliation in Canada

by Rob Shields

By Adriana Boffa

How does one heal a community after trauma? A difficult question, especially after the horrific events that occurred on the afternoon of January 22, 2016 in the small north-western Saskatchewan community school of La Loche where four people were killed and seven were injured by a young boy of 17, who is also of that community (La Loche Shooting, n.d.).

Now is the difficult time, where questions are being asked and a search for someone(thing) to blame begins; the answers do not emerge easily and are evasive. La Loche is a small isolated North-Western Saskatchewan Dene community that has experienced great amount of trauma, and not solely from this incident. It is a community that has been living the intergenerational effects of colonialism; many in the town have been directly and indirectly affected by the legacy of residential schools (Residential Schools, n.d.). As such, La Loche is a community where a people are struggling to find their way back to their Dene cultural and historical roots. It is also a community where: the young are beginning to outnumber the old; there is little hope or opportunities in town for their youth’s future; the social supports and resources are continually lacking and being cut back (Tait, 2016); and, they suffer one of the highest suicide rates in the province (Tait, 2016; O’Connors, Hall, & Warick, 2016; Mandryk, 2016; White, 2016). This community needs to heal in more ways than one.

Where does one even begin to heal?

One proposed way was put forth by Georgina Jolibois (MP for Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River) and by La Loche’s acting Mayor Kevin Janvier, both calling for the demolishing of the school (White, 2016; Tait, 2016). Georgina states, “Tear down the building, rebuild the building. There’s so much pain, so much trauma. They need to rebuild. The families are hurting, the youth are hurting, the community is hurting. The north is hurting” (Tait, 2016).

Dene Building, La Loche Community School, La Loche Saskatchewan

Is this the answer? How can a place hold such power over a community’s healing? A potential response might be found in the newly released document by the Government of Canada, the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada‘s (TRCC) report, detailing the injustices of “cultural genocide” (p. 55) committed upon the Indigenous peoples of this country through their forced assimilation and absorption via the residential school system. According to this report, residential schools are responsible for a “loss of pride and self respect” of and for Indigenous peoples in Canada (p. VI). This “loss” and “cultural genocide”, as can be surmised by engaging with this document, is firmly connected to a profound disconnect from place, which consequently led to a disconnect from history, culture, language, and family.

Residential schools that are still left standing remain an imposing fixture (physically and emotionally) in various Indigenous communities. While some have been re-claimed and re-purposed by the community, others lay empty acting as ghostly reminders of a horrific past. These structures are places of great trauma and unsettling memory. They are not merely buildings; rather, they are places that conjure temporal and spatial disturbances for all who are in their presence. The school buildings evoke memories, recall histories or pasts, generate affects (physical and emotional), transform the spaces around them, and create potential becomings (positive or negative) for all who engage with them.

Beauvais Indian School during construction 1931, Northern Saskatchewan

The heart of the TRCC report is regarding reconciliation, not only for the survivors and their families, but also for Canada as whole. It is about developing a mutual respect, reciprocity, and a recognition that we are all interconnected in this process of healing that requires all of us learning from our shared and difficult past. Reconciliation is not just one thing we do to make ourselves feel better, it is something that needs to be adopted into our ethics of how we might engage with life differently. Therefore, one needs to do more than just talk about reconciliation, “[one] must learn to practice reconciliation in our lives” (p. 21).

In terms of reconciling and healing through the tragic events of January 22nd, there is a need to look beyond this single event and realize that it is not a simple fix and it requires a look at the past – no matter how uncomfortable that will be. It is a realization that this community school building is not just a simple building, rather a conduit to the past, present, and future of and for this community. Reconciliation begins with how we enter a place and interact with it. Healing, therefore, might also being with how we choose to engage with this community and respect their path towards reconciling their trauma. Georgina Jolibois, stated “when you listen to the community, when you listen to the youth, when you listen to the elders, and the pain – they will say that [they wish the building to be demolished] also” (Tait, 2016, n.p.). The fate of the building is tied to the community and listening to the community is where one might begin.

Adriana Boffa (University of Alberta)

Resources

La Loche shootings: The victims, the town, the school and the tragic tale so far​. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2016, from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/la-loche-shootings-the-victims-the-town-and-the-tragic-tale-sofar/article28368674/

Mandryk, M. (2016, January 26). La Loche shooting tragedy seemed almost inevitable. Regina Leader Post. Retrieved from http://leaderpost.com/opinion/columnists/la-loche-shooting-tragedy-seemed-almost-inevitable

O’Connor, J., Hill, A., & Warick, J. (2016, January 25). La Loche fights to find hope. National Post, In Edmonton Journal, pp. NP1-NP3.

Residential Schools – History of La Loche. (n.d.). Retrieved January 26, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/site/portagelaloche/history/6-residential-schools

Tait, Carrie. (2016, January 24). La Loche turns to forgiveness, healing in wake of shootings that killed four. Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/it-hurts-for-everybody-la-loche-residents-in-mourning-after-school-shooting/article28363770/

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. (2015). Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future: summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Retrieved from http://epe.lac-bac.gc.ca/100/201/301/weekly_acquisition_lists/2015/w15-24-F-E.html/collections/collection_2015/trc/IR4-7-2015-eng.pdf

White, P. (2016, January 24). La Loche: A beautiful town with a rough reputation. Globe and Mail. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/la-loche-a-beautiful-town-with-a-rough-reputation/article28367474/

05 Feb 18:45

What Do We Mean By 'Computer Science for All'?

Late last week, President Obama announced a “Computer Science for All” initiative. He called for $4 billion in the upcoming budget to expand CS training for teachers, access to instructional materials, and “effective regional partnerships,” along with some $100 million in competitive grants (because nothing says “for all” like making states and districts compete for their education funding).

The need for such a program was – no surprise – framed in terms of the job market. We hear more and more that the purpose of school should be to bend to the (short-term) demands of employers. This has been a narrative that many in the tech sector have furthered (and I’ve written about repeatedly): there’s (supposedly) a “STEM crisis,” a shortage of high-skilled employees now. In the future it’ll be even more dire, the tech punditry warns.

I’m not convinced (and I’m not alone).

The President’s statement and the accompanying fact sheet present this figure as rationale for the big investment: 600,000 unfilled tech jobs. There’s no source for this number; there’s no citation. The number certainly isn’t one that the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides. (Rather, one of its latest report points to the number of job openings in the health care sector. But there seems to be no mandate that “everyone learn to medical.”) For what it’s worth, I believe the National Association of Manufacturing is the source for that figure the White House gives – or at least, back in 2011, it reported there were “600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs.”

This questionable statistic about “unfilled tech jobs” helps underscore some of the flawed assumptions that Obama’s “Computer Science for All” initiative rests upon: what exactly constitutes a “tech job”? Are those jobs unfilled because workers do not know computer science? (Interestingly, those with degrees in computer science had some of the highest unemployment rates among STEM majors during the recent economic downturn.) And what exactly does that phrase “computer science” even mean?

There isn’t any consensus on the latter – a failure of vision, says, Gary Stager who has one of the best responses to the President’s announcement and to ed-tech’s amnesia when it comes to computers and education. Citing one definition of computer literacy (from Arthur Luehrmann) dating back to 1984, the phrase:

…must mean the ability to do something constructive with a computer, and not merely a general awareness of facts one is told about computers. A computer literate person can read and write a computer program, can select and operate software written by others, and knows from personal experience the possibilities and limitations of the computer.

If you look around at what schools currently offer in terms of “computer science,” you’ll find classes that teach computer programming, ones that teach computer applications (notably those in the Microsoft Office suite), and ones that only teach “digital citizenship.” (It’s probably worth reiterating here too that there are some significant differences in which demographic of students has opportunities to experience which of these different definitions of “computer science.”) In some places, these “computer science” classes emphasize “computational thinking,” and in others, they emphasize “business skills.” Some schools offer the Computer Science AP class/exam (which focuses on programming in Java); some (starting this fall) will offer the new Computer Principles AP class/exam (which as the name suggests, will focus on foundational computer science principles and not programming per se). Twenty-eight states do allow computer science credits to count towards graduation – but some say it’s equivalent to a math credit, some say it’s equivalent to a science credit, some say it’s equivalent to a foreign language credit.

So what will “Computer Science for All” entail? There are echoes in the initiative’s name of that tired mantra that “everyone should learn to code.” Perhaps “Computer Science for All” will prove to be different than that particular industry-sponsored push – because, if nothing else, “code” is different from (although related to) “computer science.” Perhaps. (Then again, these very same folks are listed as partners in Obama’s new initiative, and we can look to Apple’s commitment to the initiative as an example here of whose interests are really being represented. Apple, according to Wired Magazine will invest “in training workshops and curriculum development, particularly around its Swift programming language.” To be clear, that’s a language for building apps (only) on Apple’s mobile operating system.)

Despite the claims made by various education entrepreneurs that nothing we do or teach in schools has changed for hundreds of years, curricula is always changing and, just as importantly, curricula is always contested. Whose definition(s) of computer science will prevail? What types of students will have rich and meaningful experiences with computers and what types will get repetitive coding exercises? And computer science to what end?

From a Silicon Valley venture capitalist (whose firm has invested in, among other things, the "high-tech skills"-training startup Udacity):


That's hardly a vision for a democratic future (for education or otherwise)...

06 Feb 01:48

Artforum about "Data Drift" exhibition (curated by Lev Manovich, Rasa Smite, Raitis Smiths) - article by Martha Buskirk

by Lev Manovich

article about Data Drift in Artforum p1
(high resolution version of page 1)

article about Data Drift in Artforum p2
(high resolution version of page 2)



Data Drift is an exhibition curated by Lev MANOVICH, Rasa SMITE and Raitis SMITS at kim? Contemporary Art Centre in Riga, October 10 – November 22, 2015.

Artforum (February 2016) just published a very nice article about the exhibition written by Marta Burskirk, Professor of Art History and Criticism at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Since Artforum's content is not available online, and a single print issue costs $10 (in U.S.), we offer the scan of the article above. Addition of URLs, underlining and correction for On Broadway details are ours. Click on the images to see them in high resolution on Flickr and read the text.


Introduction to Data Drift written by Manovich:

DATA DRIFT exhibition showcases works by some of the most influential data designers of our time, as well as by artists who use data as their artistic medium. How can we use the data medium to represent our complex societies, going beyond "most popular," and "most liked"? How can we organize the data drifts that structure our lives to reveal meaning and beauty? How to use big data to "make strange," so we can see past and present as unfamiliar and new?

If painting was the art of the classical era, and photograph that of the modern era, data visualization is the medium of our own time. Rather than looking at the outside worldwide and picturing it in interesting ways like modernist artists (Instagram filters already do this well), data designers and artists are capturing and reflecting on the new data realities of our societies.


Full list of projects and artists shown in Data Drift:

COMPUTERS WATCHING MOVIES (Benjamin Grosser, 2013)

ON BROADWAY (Daniel Goddemeyer , Moritz Stefaner, Dominikus Baur, Lev Manovich, 2014)

CINEMETRICS (Frederic Brodbeck, 2011)

CULTUREGRAPHY (Kim Albrecht, Boris Müller, Marian Dörk, 2014)

THE RUN (Kristaps Epners, 2015)

THE EXCEPTIONAL AND THE EVERYDAY: 144 HOURS IN KYIV (Lev Manovich, Mehrdad Yazdani, Alise Tifentale, Jay Chow, 2014)

CHARTING CULTURE (Maximilian Schich, Mauro Martino, 2014)

STADTBILDER (Moritz Stefaner, 2013)

U.S. GUN KILLINGS: THE STOLEN YEARS (Periscopic, 2013)

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND (Pitch Interactive, 2013)

BAND 9 (Semiconductor, 2015)

SMART CITIZEN (Smart Citizen Team, 2012-present)

A SENSE OF PLACE (SPIN Unit, 2014-)

TALK TO ME (Rasa Smite, Raitis Smits, Martins Ratniks, 2011–2015)





05 Feb 14:35

Twitter Favorites: [mulegirl] All the inside baseball talk about "innovation" and "product-market fit" neglects the customer perspective.

Erika Hall @mulegirl
All the inside baseball talk about "innovation" and "product-market fit" neglects the customer perspective.
05 Feb 16:52

Twitter Favorites: [ablaze] I’m going big on Twitter lists again. Can’t wait for them to kill the feature next Thursday.

Jon Mitchell @ablaze
I’m going big on Twitter lists again. Can’t wait for them to kill the feature next Thursday.
05 Feb 19:08

Twitter Favorites: [WillPate] Messaging bots will improve workplace productivity, @slack wants to be the platform https://t.co/PDYFV3PJDd

Will Pate @WillPate
Messaging bots will improve workplace productivity, @slack wants to be the platform buff.ly/23NRl4G
06 Feb 03:21

Twitter Favorites: [joeld] Won’t someone just bolt a tiny little CMS onto an RSS reader? boom, Twitter replacement

≈ Joel Dueck @joeld
Won’t someone just bolt a tiny little CMS onto an RSS reader? boom, Twitter replacement
06 Feb 15:19

How to Prevent a Problem Like Flint

by David Banks

160128-flint-drinking-water-pipes-yh-0357p_5ee6fbfc6af1099161e690c66b6ba389.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

By now I think most people know what happened in Flint, Michigan. An unelected “emregency manager” –appointed and reporting directly to Michigan’s governor Rick Snyder– switched Flint’s water supply from Detroit municipal water to untreated Flint River water. The river water had a higher salinity than Detroit’s water which caused metalic pipes to corrode and leach toxic levels of lead into an entire city’s water supply. This happened back in 2013 and it is still an unresolved problem. The solution for Flint is straightforward: replace all the pipes and provide the kind of lifetime care needed for children and other vulnerable populations that have irreprable neurological damage from lead poisoning. What is less straightforward is how to prevent these kinds of problems from happening in the future. Because while this happened under a terrible governance structure, similar ongoing disasters are occurring in places that still have some form of elected, local governance still in tact. This is as much a problem of science and technology as it is an issue of governance and accountability. What is to be done?

Marc Edwards, a Virginia Tech scientist who was one of the loudest whistle blowers regarding the Flint water crisis had a refreshingly blunt response to this problem when he was interviewed in the Chronicle:

I am very concerned about the culture of academia in this country and the perverse incentives that are given to young faculty. The pressures to get funding are just extraordinary. We’re all on this hedonistic treadmill — pursuing funding, pursuing fame, pursuing h-index — and the idea of science as a public good is being lost.

This is something that I’m upset about deeply. I’ve kind of dedicated my career to try to raise awareness about this. I’m losing a lot of friends. People don’t want to hear this. But we have to get this fixed, and fixed fast, or else we are going to lose this symbiotic relationship with the public. They will stop supporting us.

He goes on to note that the government agencies that would normally fund scientists’ research into the problem were, themselves, the problem which makes it nearly impossible for any scientist to do life-saving work if they have any desire to be employed the next day or funded next year.

This dynamic has been a known problem among science and technology studies scholars for a long time but little structural change has been accomplished. If any long-lasting good can come from the Flint water crisis, it may be a significant change in how science is funded in this country. Back in 2014 I had an essay that ran in Tikkun Magazine suggested one possible solution to a problem like Flint. I’ll conclude this short essay by block quoting that proposed solution:

The New Deal programs that started life as direct assistance to the poor but have since morphed into command-and-control structures (some privatized) that do more to monitor and sanction people than feed and house them should be left to wither on the vine. Leftists can ill afford to spend the money and effort in reforming these social and technological systems. In their place we must form networks of locally run organizations that treat people with dignity and respect.

The beginning of this process might look like the block grants to state and local governments that were popular under Carter but disappeared under Reagan and never came back. Large sums of money must be remitted directly to communities without unfunded mandates for metrics and sampling. The measure of success should begin and end with the communities that receive the money: it requires a massive amount of trust. The sort of trust that can only come from treating fellow citizens like compassionate and loving whole persons. For this to succeed where it is needed the most, large leftist organizations must identify and federate with organizations doing good work in more conservative regions of the country. This process starts with basic resource assessments and a revitalization of civic institutions in places like the Ninth Ward of New Orleans, Louisiana; Immokalee, Florida; and countless other towns and cities ravaged by capitalism.

Free education should be available to all, but nothing changes if newly minted experts continue to work for malevolent corporations and/or detached universities. Therefore, in addition to providing no-strings-attached block grants, the government should pay an array of experts to put themselves up for hire by communities to help solve problems in a collaborative and deliberative way. Imagine a clearinghouse of sociologists, water chemists, lawyers, economists, and geologists all fully paid by the federal government and willing work with a community to solve problems identified by its residents.

David is on twitter.

Image source: NBC News.

06 Feb 16:17

"Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason..."

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

-

Marcus Aurelius

06 Feb 00:00

Creating an Infrastructure for Open Access

files/images/14602198884_ac1d0f447a_z.jpg


Barbara Fister, Inside Higher Ed, Feb 07, 2016


According to Barbara Fister, Rebecca Kennison and Lisa Norberg have come up with a plan "to build a new system for funding humanities and social sciences publishing that would make it open to all while preserving it for the future." The idea is that all academic institutions would contribute to a common fund that would pay for the publications. They point to the benefit of this model to universities by pointing out that "our graduates are currently shut out of the expensive resources that institutions provide to currently enrolled students at great expense. Wouldn't they be happier if that funding meant they had continual access?" It would make me happier. And ultimately institutions would reallocate their acquisition budgets to the support of open publishing, and help secure their position in society by providing for the common good.

[Link] [Comment]
06 Feb 17:25

"We understand now that we have already entered the heat age."

“We understand now that we have already entered the heat age.”

-

Mark Urban, T-Shirt Weather in the Arctic

Global warming is rapidly changing the Arctic, and no one knows what’s next. 

Welcome to the heat age.

05 Feb 00:00

Why kids — now more than ever — need to learn philosophy. Yes, philosophy.

files/images/1865053221430148541.jpg


Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, Feb 07, 2016


If you read this more closely (like a philosopher would) you can see that what Valerie Strauss really means here is that kids should be taught how to reason more effectively. "The teacher’ s job is to guide and inform student inquiries, helping them pay attention to the quality of their reasoning, and making sure they realize they’ re meeting on terms of equality and mutual respect." This is a far larger endeavour than it sounds, as effective reasoning isn't simply a matter of memorizing some logical forms and fallacies. And while it is laudable to encourage kids to become better citizens, it's not clear exactly what that means - should they question assumptions, as Strauss suggests, or simply accept some things as fact, as many leaders suggest? And what is a better  citizen anyways?

[Link] [Comment]
05 Feb 17:02

How the Republicans Win

Democrats nominate Sanders, and Republicans nominate Rubio or Cruz.

Then there’s this TV ad:

Blank screen. Voice says: “Socialism was tried…”

Fade-in: hammer and sickle.

Voice: “The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics failed…”

Black-and-white video plus audio of Reagan: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Black-and-white video of a statue of Lenin being pulled down.

Color photo of Rubio (or Cruz) with family. Voice: “Marco Rubio’s parents fled socialist Cuba to come to the land of the free, where anyone’s child can become President… The United States of America.”

Shooting fish in a barrel sounds difficult compared to beating Bernie Sanders.

05 Feb 18:14

Item from Ian and James – The Urbanarium Highrise Debate

by pricetags

Ian Robertson and James Bligh both attended the second of the Urbanarium debates – “Be it resolved that we should build fewer towers” – and combined forces to write this analysis:

 

Towers win – but do we?

.

It was a very close race the whole time, with the vote splitting 51 to 49 percent in favour of building fewer towers and ending at 52 to 48 percent in favour of building more towers. (With a number of ‘extra’ votes at the end.  Some people didn’t seem to do their Oxfordian duty and vote twice. For shame on all your houses!)

The affirmative side accepted that towers will be built, and even should be built, but that there are other things that should be built also – the ‘Missing Middle’ referred to in Brent Toderian’s debate in the Urbanarium Density debate.

The negative side based their argument on the economics of towers, and that with ‘silly’ land prices, towers are the only viable option. Further, since some midrise is built with vinyl siding, so all will be – so it’s best avoided altogether. Surprisingly absent from the debate was the correlation of building typology to land speculation, or of any mention of the poor/refugees/disabled.

An interesting point was raised by an audience member, who asked whether or not some of the collateral damage involved with building towers (gentrification, shadows, social exclusivity, etc.) could be solved by design. If our towers are “gated communities that prevent social diversity”, can we alter the way they work to make them more inclusive?

 

Poor Doors and Mixed Communities

Is there a way to avoid the ‘Poor Door’ which is increasingly inherent to condo towers (Main and 2nd being one, with segregated facilities and entrances)?  The argument that they aren’t gated communities falls flat when 20 percent of the tower’s residents cannot access the amenities and community features of the tower. As has been argued by some on this blog, there is not a clean and easy way for renters to pay amenity fees; therefore they would be free riders on a building’s amenities. Is it possible to address this split, to figure out how to allow the rental side to ‘pay’ for the amenity (given that they do pay rent), or get over the fact that they don’t, and enjoy the ‘good’ of having a mixed community override the ‘fairness’ of only having those who pay accessing facilities.

The ‘Poor Door’ is but one example. Ignoring code constraints for a moment, what if some walls of each condo were glazed in such a way as to give you the opportunity to interact with your neighbour(s), if you so chose? What if each floor of market condo required at least one unit of rental, live-work, low-income and/or public housing? Would this breed social solidarity?

 

Green Space

Boeri
What if each floor needed direct access to common and/or green space? Are there new forms of tower that might save us? This question can be levied against low-rise as well (as there are certainly anti-social short buildings too).

The_Interlace_by_OMA_Ole_Scheeren_03_photo_Iwan_Baan

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However, typically low-rise designs have been more likely to experiment with their formulae, and, especially in North America, highrises have not. (Ken Yeang’s towers, some from Norman Foster, the green tower by Stefano Boeri (Habitat, left above), and Ole Scheeren’s recent Singapore ‘landscraper’ (Interlace, above) are all good examples of different thinking).

 

.

Affordability

The ‘pro-tower’ side further based its argument in the current ‘normal’ by which a developer buys/assembles land, has to rezone, pays CACs, builds a tower, and sells it to whomever can/wants to buy. The stated benefit of this is that the ‘extra’ paid for high-level units allows the creation of much cheaper units below, unlike midrise where all units are almost the same cost vertically (so neither premium nor cheap). This presumes that the developer chooses to price some units ‘affordably’, but as there is no requirement specifically to do so (except for the percentage of ‘affordable’ housing they are sometimes required to build) there is no guarantee that this will manifest. Is legislation then the answer?

Whistler-2If these savings don’t manifest, much of the pro-tower’s argument goes out the window. Assuming these savings are valid, however, this pro-tower argument is persuasive long as this ‘normal’ is the only model available. If models from elsewhere are followed, the condo cost is either not tied to the land cost, or less so – if one uses a bit more imagination and uncouples these things (whether through co-op, land trust, building on city/crown land, the way Whistler built its own housing, right)) then this justification goes away. The model of Vienna (city-as-developer) is a good one here. It will also be interesting to see what comes from the 20 sites the city has made available to the Federal Government’s $$$ to build affordable housing.

Alt Erlaa_1976_3172DU_HarryGlueckArchitect

Alt Erlaa, 1976 , the largest Viennese social housing development with over 3,000
dwellings

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Overall, while there might be many good aspects to a well-designed tower, there can also be many negative effects, which are potentially harder to remedy in a tower (green space, social space, health issues occurring on high floors, shadows, solar PV or thermal retrofit, and mechanical systems).

Even with all of the substantial convincing done otherwise, it remains hard not to agree with the ‘Build Fewer Towers’ side. Regardless, the current binary condition does few people much service (save developers, and those collecting CAC’s), and a diversity of housing forms would better accommodate a diverse population with diverse needs.

Based on our ‘normal’ current conditions and trajectory, more towers remain a fait accompli. We ought to be more creative and make that fate a choice, and not the only port in a storm. More towers, sure, but more creativity and choice also.

Oh, and the ‘missing middle’


05 Feb 18:22

“We’ve lost control of our own stories online”

by Scott Rosenberg

Facebook on this day
What Facebook’s On This Day shows about the fragility of our online lives — Leigh Alexander in the Guardian:

In many senses, we’ve lost control of our own stories online – the ongoing “right to be forgotten” discussions that began in the European Court of Justice in 2014 act as a partial concession to that point.

Instead of a shoebox of pictures and a diary, your child will grow up depending on interconnected platforms and services. Her entire history, from the first ultrasound picture you share to your network to the day she has a headache to the day she makes a snack, and on like that, will be documented – and could belong to service providers. Unless we can regain control of our narratives online, unless we can discover a way to value our social content, thisflickering constellation of forgettable “moments” and social media “memories”, is the main way our histories will be kept.

05 Feb 18:35

Slowing Down the Queen

by pricetags

By way of transportation consultant Clive Rock:

.

Road markingd

 

White lines on roads could become a thing of the past in an attempt to slow drivers down because blank roads cause uncertainty and motorists slow down as a result.  In a complete switch from received wisdom on congestion and road crashes, research suggests doing so, can cut the average speed on a road by 13 per cent.

So plans for a “shared space” pilot scheme are being drawn in Norfolk which could see lines removed on narrower roads near the Queen’s Sandringham Estate, according to The Timesnewspaper.

Similar trials have already taken place in Wiltshire and Derby and central markings – a feature of British roads for almost 100 years – have not been replaced on three roads in South London. A 2014 trial by Transport for London found that “removing central white lines resulted in a reduction in vehicle speeds,” they said on their website.


05 Feb 18:38

Creator of BBM out at BlackBerry as company sheds more talent

by Daniel Bader

The creator of BBM, and one of BlackBerry’s longest-tenured employees, is no longer at the company.

Gary Klassen, who joined then-Research In Motion in 2000 as a software engineer for the upcoming BlackBerry 950 communicator, has left the company after almost 16 years. Klassen’s wife, who posted on Facebook, says that her husband has “walked out of BlackBerry for the last time.”

“Gary you’ve been a wonderful example of integrity, faithfulness, and patience working there but I’m glad you’re out,” she said in a public post.

After spending five years in RIM’s general software division, Klassen went on to create the team that would integrate a number of messaging services into the legacy BlackBerry operating system. His most significant achievement came in 2005 when he launched BlackBerry Messenger, a service still used today by nearly 200 million people around the world.

According to a post released on BlackBerry’s internal blog, BBM was initially used for internal purposes, and was known as QuickMessenger. The product was envisioned as a way for BlackBerry users, all of whom had unique PIN codes, to chat with one another in a secure, data-driven environment. “BBM was the first form of text communication that was instant, cross-carrier, and mobile, in a time when people were still attached to their PCs,” said Klassen in an interview in mid-2015.

BlackBerry Messenger was released for iOS and Android in October 2013, and in the company’s latest earnings results said it is used by over 190 million people. BBM has since expanded to the enterprise with BBM Protected, though the short-lived collaboration tool, BBM Meetings, was shut down last month.

A year ago, Klassen was promoted to Director of Software Architecture and Innovation, moving home to Waterloo after spending nearly two years in Malmo, Sweden with the remnants of design company The Astonishing Tribe, which RIM purchased in 2010.

At the time of publishing, neither Klassen nor a BlackBerry representative has responded to requests for comment.

Related: BlackBerry reportedly cuts 35% of Waterloo workforce, including significant BlackBerry 10 & Devices staff

05 Feb 18:40

City of Surrey is neglecting safe crosswalks

by daka_x