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22 Aug 19:00

The Fixing-JSON Conversation

Last week I suggested some modest JSON improvements, and conversation ensued. Obviously, much was “He’s Wrong On The Internet (again)” but lots was juicy and tasty, and worth considering further.

This is based on reaction in my own comments, and on Hacker News.

“Just use X”

For values of X including Hjson, Amazon Ion, edn, Transit, YAML, and TOML.

Nah, most of them are way, way richer than JSON, often with fully-worked-out type systems and Conceptual Tutorials and so on. I just want JSON that’s easier to edit and can do timestamps.

Hmm, SON looks pretty close to what I’m thinking.

Also, I gather that edn simply asserts that commas are whitespace, which smells sort of brilliant to me.

“Comments, please please comments!”

Can’t think of a good reason to say no. # or // and/or /* */? Why use two characters where one would do? I’m thinking #.

“You shouldn’t want to hand-edit JSON”

Yeah, I shouldn’t and actually I don’t. But somehow I keep having to. And it’s a sucky, horrible, experience, but it doesn’t have to be.

“You’ll lose JavaScript compatibility!”

Sorry, JSON already isn’t a JavaScript subset. Also, you should never use eval() on JavaScript, the right approach is always JSON.parse() and JSON.toString() or your language’s equivalent.

“Unquoted field names, please!”

Bah, can’t see the benefit. If I have to look at the value to decide whether to quote it, I’m doing it wrong.

Is it too late?

The only real argument is whether it’s counterproductive, or maybe just too late, to try to prune some JSON irritants. Can’t say as I know. Anyhow, if it were worth doing, I think you could build a consensus around:

  1. Declaring that commas are whitespace,

  2. adding comments (I’d vote for # but whatever), and

  3. adding RFC3339 timestamps — people seemed to like the @-prefix idea too.

One nice consequence is that all existing JSON would also be the .next version or whatever we call it. Speaking of which, I even picked a catchy name and snagged the domain. So far, not hearing the drumbeat of virtual feet on the virtual street though.

26 Aug 05:02

Credit Card Numbers Aren’t Worth Much Now, So Hackers Want Your Mobile Banking Info

by Kate Cox
mkalus shared this story from Consumerist.

If you’re worried about the security of mobile banking, you’re not alone. Mobile banking apps use a wide array of complicated passwords, biometric tools (like thumbprint or facial scanning), and two-factor authentication to make sure you’re you before “you” try to mess with your money. But preventing anyone from being able to guess how to log in to your account does no good if your phone’s got malware on it that gives would-be baddies a wide-open back door.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, the presence of mobile malware designed to steal banking credentials is on the rise.

The software, including programs like Acecard and GM Bot, has drawn the attention of both the FBI and U.S. banking regulators, according to the WSJ.

There’s just not as much money in stealing credit card numbers anymore, as the seeming inevitability of wide-scale retail breeches means the market is oversaturated with stolen cards. Even criminal markets are subject to the law of supply and demand, and so that card data is just not worth as much to the criminal trying to sell it anymore, on average.

That means the enterprising digital thief needs to take a new approach.

This particular kind of malware spreads when a phone user opens a loaded text or advertisement. It then sits around on your phone until you open one of the targeted banking apps.

When you do open your banking app, the software creates a customized overlay — a fake front — that lets it grab the credentials you put in as you put them in. And boom: your password’s stolen. According to the WSJ, Acecard alone has those overlays ready for 50 of the biggest banking apps.

Phones are considered particularly vulnerable, because there are so many ways to get someone to open a link and so few users — not even a third, overall — use any kind of antivirus or anti-malware software.

So how can you protect yourself?

Know what your banking apps should look like, and don’t use them if anything about them looks “off.” Keep an eye on your statements and let your bank send you alerts for any unusual transactions. Try to avoid clicking any link that you don’t recognize, especially in strange texts — and consider trying one of the many free, reputable protection options for your phone.

Mobile Bank Heist: Hackers Target Your Phone [Wall Street Journal]





26 Aug 02:51

Raincape comparison: Boncho & Cleverlite

by jnyyz

A while ago I backed a Kickstarter project for an unusual raincape called the Boncho. The original delivery date was March 2016, but delivery was somewhat delayed (par for the course for Kickstarter projects). My Boncho arrived last week. Here are a couple of unboxing pictures.

DSC09246 DSC09247

The Boncho weighs 422 g (size medium).

IMG_3785

Here is a comparison with the Cleverhood rain cape.

DSC09256

The main feature of the Boncho is that there is an embedded wire loop that keeps the front of the poncho semi rigid over the handlebars.  However, you can see that the coverage is considerably less than the Cleverhood, especially to the sides.

Here is a picture on the bike.

IMG_3800

Again with the helmet.

IMG_3794

It is useful to compare this with the Impac raincape, which has considerably less coverage

DSC07657

or the Cleverhood.

cape

So the Boncho is between the Impac and the Cleverhood.

Here is the comparison of the packed sizes.

IMG_3783 IMG_3784

Here is a view of the Boncho hood, with some adjustment cords, and a water resistant zipper, and some reflective trim.

DSC09250

The hood barely fits over my helmet, but then the zipper won’t close.

DSC09252

Here is the back of the wire loop, showing the straps that you can use to hold onto the poncho.

DSC09251

I rode with the Boncho in the rain for the first time today.  It did a good job of keeping me dry. Also, I can see some advantages to the wire loop stiffener. It holds the front edge of the poncho forward enough that my lower legs were fractionally drier. Also, it was very easy to reposition the poncho when I used one hand to do a hand signal. Finally, it also avoids the puddle between the arms that can accumulate with any other poncho.

However, the downside to the Boncho was that the frontal area is huge, and extends to the sides much wider than the handlebars, so if you are concerned about aerodynamic drag, this is not a good choice for you.

IMG_3879

What is the alternative?  The Impac rain cape is lighter, but the coverage is minimal to the sides. The Cleverhood gives the best coverage, but it is heavy and relatively expensive. However, I recently discovered that Cleverhood has come up with a much less expensive option called the Cleverlite raincape. The Cleverlite does not have the bells and whistles of the Cleverhood, in particular the very handy pass thru slits for your hands that have magnetic closures. However it is less than half the price, and it is still sewn in the US.

Here is a comparison of the coverage of the Cleverlite and the Cleverhood.

DSC09299

The same amount of coverage front to back, and only a little less to the sides.

Here is a flash photo of the back, which highlights the reflective trim. (The Cleverhood electric houndstooth still looks awesome.)

DSC09300

The Cleverlite weighs 210 grams.

IMG_3837

If you roll it up, it packs pretty small, smaller than a Marmot Super Mika rain jacket (typical for an ultralight rain jacket) but bigger than the Impac rain cape.

DSC09298

My preference for a rain cape is that it packs small. At the same time, the coverage of the Impac rain cape is marginal in windy conditions. The Cleverlite offers the best balance of packability and coverage at a very reasonable price point. The Impac is still a good option to stash in a saddle bag to “just in case” if I’m not sure that it will rain.

Summary table

Cape Weight (g) Price Origin
Cleverhood 660 $249 US US
Cleverlite 210 $99 (on sale for $79) US
Boncho 422 $74 Taiwan
Impac (Cape Scott) 104 $50 CDN China

A few other notes:

  • Impac makes a heavier rain cape that provides more coverage and has a transparent window for a headlamp beam. I have no experience with this.
  • No rain cape will work well without full coverage fenders.
  • The Cleverlite raincape was provided by Cleverhood for this review.

My previous posts on rain capes:


25 Aug 17:15

Second-last gas station in downtown Vancouver put on the market

by Frances Bula

The disappearing gas station is something that has attracted my attention for years. You see the signs of their former selves all over the city, sometimes sitting unused for many years because of the remediation needed (Broadway/Guelph, for example), sometimes instantly snapped up for development (Main/25th).

So of course, I jumped like a rabbit when the Chevron people sent out a little notice saying they are putting three sites up for sale, including the ever-popular Georgia/Bidwell one. My story here.

I’m thinking if enough of them disappear, it will help spur the move to electric cars. I resisted electric in my last purchase two years ago because I was worried that, given my chaotic life, I’d be driven mad trying to find charging stations while I was running to my usual seven appointments a day.

But if gas pumps become just as difficult to find, well, might as well switch.

 

25 Aug 17:49

Worth bringing forward: What’s causing traffic congestion on the North Shore?

by pricetags

Frank Ducote added this comment to the post on the Arbutus Greenway – but it’s worth pulling out to continue the conversation on its own post:

… vehicular traffic on the main North Shore routes has gotten ridiculously congested – if not exactly gridlocked – an increasingly large percentage of the day. (Marine Drive, Taylor Way, both bridges, Highway 1, Keith Road, Capilano Road, etc.) The directional split on the Second Narrows Bridge, for example, went from about 70%/30% to almost 50%/50% in just a few years, making the so-called reverse commute very painful rather than easy. I hope new changes at the north end of the Second Narrows will improve matters there.

Contrary to his point, though, it isn’t additional traffic caused by residential population development on the North Shore, which is actually quite modest and incremental. I’d hazard to say it is mostly generated by explosive development along the entire Sea to Sky Highway corridor since that facility was widened for the 2010 Olympics.

Living in Squamish and commuting to Metro is now about as common as living in the Fraser Valley and doing so. That, plus the fact that almost all freight is carried by truck and construction workers drive vans and trucks, both of which originate south of Burrard Inlet and probably even south of the Fraser.

Oh, how I wish that railway infrastructure was selected for the Sea to Sky route rather than yet more Motordom!

 

There’s a critical point here: the Province has spent billions on this corridor – Sea-to-Sky, Highway 1, Port Mann, interchange upgrades connected to Second Narrows, along with smaller road and bridge widenings.

For that money and those political commitments, couldn’t the public reasonably expect that congestion would be lessened?  Has it been? And if it’s worse, how could that have happened?  

What lessons does that mean for the future of the North Shore and, to the south, with the massive expansion of the Massey crossing and Highway 99, growth on the Fraser Delta? The Province, without ever articulating a complete vision, has undertaken a region-shaping network of highways and some of the biggest bridges on the continent.  There is no reason to think they will stop.

And yet, if it is already failing to deliver the minimum expected – less congestion – we need to know why and what the alternatives are.


25 Aug 17:51

iOS 9.3.5 now available to download, brings ‘an important security update’

by Ian Hardy

Apple has released “an important security update” to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users today.

iOS 9.3.5 reportedly fixes three security vulnerabilities. While a changelog is not yet available, the New York Times is reporting, “Investigators discovered that a company called the NSO Group, an Israeli outfit that sells software that invisibly tracks a target’s mobile phone, was responsible for the intrusions. The NSO Group’s software can read text messages and emails and track calls and contacts. It can even record sounds, collect passwords and trace the whereabouts of the phone user.”

This could be the last software update we see before Apple releases iOS 10 in September.

SourceApple
25 Aug 18:29

Why Vesper Didn’t Start as a Web App

Some people — people I respect — have asked why we didn’t make Vesper a web app from the start.

Or: why not make it a web app now? Surely it would be cheaper to run, and you wouldn’t have to worry about syncing or about keeping up with changes to iOS.

Well, we did want to do a web app. We worked with Alex King, who got pretty far along on the design. In those days there was no Apple-provided syncing system with web services (there is now), so we wrote our own sync system in part because we wanted to make a web app.

And: all three of us love the web. We have blogs and podcasts and videos on the web. My longest-running “product” is this very site — it’s 17 years old, and of everything I’ve ever done it’s the thing I’m most proud of.

But we didn’t get together to make web apps. We love making iOS and Mac apps, and we don’t love making web apps. We’d do it, but it’s not our passion. (Well, we would have had Alex King’s team do it, actually.)

There’s a difference between loving the web and loving making web apps.

Way back in 2002 I wrote Why I Develop for Mac OS X — it’s because of what Joel Spolsky called an “emotional appeal.” I wrote:

But to me it’s the difference between an empty night sky and a night sky with all the stars shining and a big, bright bella luna. “Emotional appeal?” Oh yes indeed. And I don’t apologize for that for one second.

It’s still true, 14 years later. And it’s why Vesper didn’t start as a web app, and why we’re not converting it now.

25 Aug 20:03

Google’s voice chat app Duo has been downloaded over 5 million times on Android

by Patrick O'Rourke

Despite a lack of features and criticism from some users, it looks like Duo, Google’s new video messaging app, has been downloaded over 5-million times by Android users around the world since its launch last week. iOS download numbers for Duo have not been revealed yet.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to Twitter last week to boast about the app’s impressive download numbers. While Duo has managed to find an audience relatively quickly, it’s unclear if its growth is sustainable. Allo, Google’s new text messaging app, which was revealed during I/O 2016, still doesn’t have a release date.

Last week, Google revealed it will continue to support Hangouts, though it will pivot the platform’s focus toward business-focused users.

SourceTwitter
25 Aug 20:38

A People Place In the Morning

by Ken Ohrn

It’s a great start, but really, we need to be much more assertive and visionary in converting public space for use by people.

Jim Deva Plaza, mid-morning, a summer day.  The street furniture is coming out, and the plaza is getting ready for people who want to watch the scene, chat with their friends, read their book, paper or Kindle, have coffee or a snack.

Deva.Plaza.2


25 Aug 20:48

Apple is reportedly working on its own version of Snapchat

by Patrick O'Rourke

When Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, formerly of 9to5Mac, reports an Apple Rumour, more often than not, it often turns out to be completely accurate, or at least have some level of truth to it.

The latest rumour surfaced by Gurman indicates that Apple could be working on its own Snapchat competitor. Videos from the app can be reportedly shot, edited and uploaded in less than a minute. An internal prototype of the app also includes the ability to post videos to social media networks directly from iOS.

According to Bloomberg, the team behind Final Cut Pro and iMovie are behind the new app, which reportedly still doesn’t have a release windows. It is, however, unlikely we’ll get our first look at Apple’s new mobile editing app at the company’s upcoming also still unofficially announced iPhone 7 press conference, with rumours touting a 2017 release for the software.

At a September 7th event, Apple is expected to reveal a new iPhone with a dual camera system for improved photo quality and a pressure sensitive home button. Instagram recently launch its own version of Snapchat’s quick video sharing functionality called Stories.

SourceBloomberg
25 Aug 18:37

Jony Ive Is Making People Uneasy

by Neil Cybart

Apple pessimism is on the rise. New Apple products are being questioned like never before. Even some of Apple's most loyal customers are beginning to wonder about Apple's direction. While many are directing criticism towards Tim Cook, nearly all of the criticism pointed towards Apple can in one way or another be traced back to a different person: Jony Ive. 

Apple Power Brokers

The two most powerful people at Apple are Tim Cook and Jony Ive. While Cook is tasked with making sure the Apple machine is being run by the best team possible, Jony's role is much more abstract. Cook aims to foster collaboration at the top of Apple's functional organizational structure. If something goes wrong, much of the criticism is quickly pointed at either Cook or one of his top lieutenants. (Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue seem to take the brunt of the criticism.) Cook has also taken on the more traditional CEO role of representing Apple in the outside world

However, the one area Cook does not have complete control over is product strategy. That distinction belongs to Jony. It may seem hyperbolic to consider Jony the most powerful person at Apple. He no longer spends much time managing anyone on a day-to-day basis. He doesn't speak on Apple's earnings conference calls. Wall Street knows very little about him, and neither does Silicon Valley. In fact, following his recent promotion to Chief Design Officer, Jony doesn't even spend as much time at Apple HQ these days. Yet Jony has such a significant influence over Apple's product strategy, it is safe to say we are firmly within the Jony Ive era at Apple. 

Design Led

Jony holds an incredible amount of power because Apple is a design-led company. Apple's functional organizational structure and culture are set up in order to give the Industrial Design (ID) group absolute power. ID holds more power at Apple than any other group. 

This structure was put in place more than 15 years ago with the iMac being the first product to take advantage of this new culture. Up to the late 1990s, engineers held the most power at Apple. Designers were merely tasked with skinning Apple products created by engineers. With the iMac, ID was afforded the freedom to move ideas from conception to reality without compromise. While Steve Jobs was the primary architect of this new power structure, the relationship he had with Jony undoubtedly played a role.

  Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 3.03.11 PM.png  

This transition from an engineering-led organization to one based around design was not easy, leading to high turnover throughout Apple's engineering ranks. Jon Rubinstein and Tony Fadell are widely believed to have been pushed out due to Apple's design-led power structure. The primary motivation for Steve Jobs to give ID absolute power was to allow Apple to make big bets and not have them get watered down by compromises that arise from having too many cooks in the kitchen. Jobs saw design as the best way to keep the user experience the most important priority during product development. ID was given the task of overseeing the user experience. 

Doubling Down

Much of the criticism pointed towards Apple today is a by-product of Apple executives doubling down on Apple's design-led philosophy. The logic behind the move is pretty clear: The strategy works. Jony, Richard Howarth, VP of Industrial Design, and the rest of the ID team have more power today than at any other point in Apple history. Jony grabbed additional power during the first major management reshuffle under Tim Cook in 2012. His promotion to Chief Design Officer in 2015 reflected Jony receiving even more control. In fact, Jony has so much control, he now is able to spend more time away from Apple HQ (which I suspect is related to Project Titan). 

ID has complete reign over Apple. This may seem like an overstatement, but take a look at how ID has impacted Apple's overall product direction during the Tim Cook era.

  • Apple's move into wearables, health, and fashion? Jony and the ID team. 
  • Apple's move into cars and transportation? Jony and the ID team.
  • Apple's eventual move into clothing? Jony and the ID team. (Give it a few years.)

This isn't to suggest that Apple isn't empowering other groups within Apple, including those focused on developing services, machine learning and other core technologies. In addition, it would be a disservice to not point out the hardware engineering talent Apple has been accumulating. These groups work closely with ID on turning ideas into products, often creating brand new manufacturing apparatuses from scratch. However, at the end of the day, Apple executives depend on ID to look after the user experience like never before. 

Examples of Criticism

It would be incorrect to position Jony as single-handedly guiding every Apple product from conception to shipped product. Not only would such a statement grossly mischaracterize how much input actually comes from the rest of the ID group, but Jony has traditionally doled out the lead designer role for each product to different people. For example, Howarth was tasked to oversee iPhone design and ended up playing a crucial role in iPad, along with Christopher Stringer. 

Instead of playing a day-to-day role, Jony's influence at Apple reveals itself in terms of the company's overall product direction and narrative. 

There are five examples of how Jony is making people extremely uneasy. 

1) iPhone. There is a growing amount of criticism being thrown at Apple concerning the iPhone's design direction: 

  • Apple is looked at as being too focused on device thinness instead of pushing for better battery as if the two attributes share some kind of direct relationship.
  • Apple's infrequent hardware refresh cadence has led some to question if Apple is losing its smartphone design edge to Samsung.
  • Apple's decision to eliminate the 3.5mm headphone jack from the new iPhones has led many to question if Apple executives have lost their minds. 

For each one of these items, criticism can be traced back to Jony. We are merely seeing Apple continue on the same design path that they were on when the first edition iPhone was launched in 2007. Jony's long-standing goal is to have the iPhone's screen take precedence above all else. This means that ID will likely have the iPhone evolve into nothing more than a display with as few physical distractions or unnecessary additions as possible. Most ports, buttons, and excess bezel will be removed. The design changes rumored to be included in the 2016 and 2017 iPhone models certainly seem to fit ID's long-term goal for iPhone. 

2) Mac. The sheer panic that the lack of Mac updates has caused some people is nothing more than ID shuffling resources and priority. Instead of updating older Mac models merely for the sake of updating, something that isn't that difficult to do, Apple continues to push the boundary with the Mac by mostly focusing on design and the user experience. We saw this firsthand in March 2015 with the new MacBook. All signs point to the second phase being announced soon with an updated MacBook Pro. To complete the Mac line, the iMac will eventually see a redesign in order to give the product an even firmer position in an increasingly mobile world where smaller screens are grabbing all of the attention. Overall, the Mac still has a role to play, but I suspect its priority is continuing to fade in the eyes of ID. This is classic resource allocation at Apple as devices capable of making technology more personal take priority.

MacRumors Buying Guide for Mac

Source: MacRumors

Source: MacRumors

3) Apple Watch. Apple's entry into the wearables space and corresponding deeper relationship with fashion and luxury themes originate with Jony. While a growing number of Apple users are poking fun at the amount of attention Apple has been giving to Watch bands over the past year, the bands go a long way in explaining how Apple managed to sell 15M Apple Watches to date. More importantly, the broader Apple Watch category highlights Jony's quest for using design to make technology more personal. Apple is clearly positioning Apple Watch as the evolutionary outcome for iPhone, something that the vast majority of the population do not yet see as a possibility. 

4) Accessories. New Apple accessories including the Apple Pencil, Magic Mouse 2, and iPhone Smart Battery Case have been ridiculed by many in the tech press. Some people are wondering if Apple has given ID too much power as no one wanted to say "no" to these accessories and their seemingly awkward charging experiences. All of those accessories can in one way or another be traced back to Jony. The Apple Pencil has many trademarks of Jony, including how the top cap is designed to be played with in hand. The Magic Mouse 2 charging position makes plenty of sense when compared to the older battery-powered Magic Mouse. (A one-minute charge gives a half a day's worth of usage.) Listen to Above Avalon Podcast Episode 45, "People Love Accessories," for a more detailed discussion on Apple's accessories.  

Island of "Misfit" Apple Accesories

  Source: YouTube

Source: YouTube

 

5) Project Titan. While consensus is still coping with the idea that Apple is designing its own car and it took more than a year for some to wrap their mind around the idea, there is still an elevated sense that Apple must be very desperate to want to move into the auto industry. In reality, the Project Titan startup is a design-led initiative. This goes against prevailing wisdom in the tech industry that says the future of the car will be determined by autonomous driving. I disagree. Instead, design will be the factor that allows us to redefine the car. Jony and Marc Newson are likely the two most powerful people currently working in the car industry given their interest and expertise in industrial design, which includes working with new materials and manufacturing techniques. One of the key aspects of Project Titan will be coming up with new ways to manufacture car parts, a key strength of both Jony and Newson. 

Jony's Apple

One aspect of Apple that is rarely discussed is how the company has seen most of its success in a relatively short amount of time. In the span of just seven years, Apple unveiled three brand-new categories (iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch) that cumulatively bring in $150 billion of revenue per year.

Not enough time has passed for us to get proper historical perspective on how some of the decisions being made by Cook will end up impacting Apple. On paper, things look fine and all indications suggest Apple's product pipeline is healthy. However, it will take years to properly analyze the decisions Cook is making today.

However, when it comes to product strategy, I suspect that in a few years, when we look back at this current stretch, we will refer to it as the Jony Ive era at Apple. 

  • Existing products like iPhone and iPad are seeing evolutionary design changes that fit with Apple's long-standing design language put forth by Jony. 
  • Apple is embracing luxury in an entirely new way, all the way down to how it designs its brick- and-mortar locations and headquarters.
  • Apple is running quickly into automobiles and transportation, which has the potential to shape the direction of the company for the coming decades.

All of these changes are making people uneasy. Some think Apple's design-led culture doesn't fit within today's changing tech landscape. Others think Apple is running out of ideas. Instead, the opposite is true. By doubling down on design, Apple is placing a rather large bet. Apple executives think design will continue to allow Apple to remain focused on the customer experience. It is this customer experience focus that will then keep Apple relevant and able to ride the technology waves like no one has done before. It all comes back to Jony and the ID philosophy that is guiding Apple. If you have doubts about Apple, you probably are uncomfortable with Jony's vision for the company.

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25 Aug 18:24

Growing with Flickr Groups – A Family and Friends’ Affair

by Zee Jenkins

Do anything with friends and immediately the experience becomes better. Do it enough and your friends also become your family. The same rings true for photography, but how does that work when photographers interested in the same types of work as you live in different places all over the world? Groups. Grupos. Gruppen. 组. Groepen. Groupes. Gruppi!

Bicolor

“My favorite groups are Macro Mondays, Catchy Colors and my 7 Days With Flickr group. Catchy colors made me grow a lot because I started participating in weekly challenges. And in my group, in addition to sharing photos, we are making virtual friends.”

Fatima and Petra, both of whom are popular Flickr photographers, encouraged her further when they connected via the Catchy Colors group. After seeing how engaged members were, and moderating for a time,Maelia got the idea to do a 366-day photo challenge to push herself further, eventually creating her own group, now with over 300 active contributors. Because Maelia is attracted to colorful photography with interesting textures, Flickr Groups have been a great place for her to practice and receive feedback on her photo compositions.

“I never studied photography. My best education originally came from my camera manuals. Whenever I have doubts I look for feedback on the Internet,” she explained. “I have no macro lens, but I love to see things up close. Everything is beautiful in 10mm.”

One man's trash is my treasure
Colores en la terraza
Two halves
One day the sun returns

For Maelia, everything is also a friends and family affair. She works in a family run business with her father and brother. She has lived in the same house since she was a kid. She sees her nephews every day, where she’s known as Tia Fotógrafo (the Photographer Aunt).

Iosu: My favorite paleontologist
Rule N°1: Don"t eat with your hands

“My nephews (my favorite models) are the biggest reason for my positivity. They expect me to play when I visit,” she explained. “It’s hard to get them to model for me. They never stand still.” Most of the photos of them are candid moments without flash or manual focus.

“My father always liked photography and from an early age taught me the basics and let me borrow his camera. When I took my first communion, around age 10, I used the money I collected to buy my first camera. This was the 1990s. There were no mobile phones, so it was quite unusual for a 10 year old girl to walk around with a little camera taking photos.”

When Maelia was two years old her mother passed away in a car accident. Though she doesn’t remember much from that time, she recently learned that one of her last experiences with her mom was having a picture taken wearing a new dress. Photography is near and dear to her heart; a true family affair she’s compelled to continue expressing with positivity. Maelia’s bubbly, exuberant personality is as much a part of her photography as it is part of her relationships.

“Most of my pictures are so colorful because I try to convey my happiness through them. No matter if I have a bad day, people need to try not to be sad. I love to cheer on other photographers too! It helps creativity (mine and others).”

Beautiful garbage
Patience
I'm in love with these flowers!
Happy 36!!!

To view more of Maelia’s work check out her Photostream or join her 7 Days With Flickr Group, where you can take part in daily theme contests, geek out over composition, and make some lifelong friends along the way.

Do you have a favorite group where you’ve collaborated with photographers from around the world, made friends, or created a Flickr Family? Tell us your tale. We’d love to feature it!


25 Aug 00:00

WhatsApp users to receive adverts

files/images/_90920175_b08788.jpg


BBC News, Aug 26, 2016


Readers of my social network accounts will know that I have shuttered my Facebook accounts and ceased using that service. The reason is that Facebook disabled the ad blocker I use in Firefox in order to force advertisements into the news stream. I have also made sure to uninstall WhatsApp (which is owned by Facebook) from my phone. You should too. It's not just that WhatsApp will start sending you advertisements (and remember, you are paying for the data transfer WhatsApp uses). WhatsApp is also going to  share your phone number with Facebook, according to newly updated terms of service. Facebook asserts, "Nothing you share on WhatsApp, including your messages, photos, and account information, will be shared onto Facebook or any of the Facebook family of apps for others to see." But it should be noted that, according to the BBC report, "Facebook will still receive data in some situations." So there's that.

[Link] [Comment]
25 Aug 16:00

Analysis of the #7FavPackages hashtag

by David Robinson

Twitter has seen a recent trend of “first 7” and “favorite 7” hashtags, like #7FirstJobs and #7FavFilms. Last week I added one to the mix, about my 7 favorite R packages:

Hadley Wickham agreed to share his own, but on one condition:

Hadley followed through, so now it’s my turn.

Setup

We can use the same twitteR package that I used in my analysis of Trump’s Twitter account:

library(twitteR)
library(purrr)
library(dplyr)
library(stringr)

# You'd need to set up authentication before running this
# See help(setup_twitter_oauth)
tweets <- searchTwitter("#7FavPackages", n = 3200) %>%
  map_df(as.data.frame)

# Grab only the first for each user (some had followups), and ignore retweets
tweets <- tweets %>%
  filter(!str_detect(text, "^RT ")) %>%
  arrange(created) %>%
  distinct(screenName, .keep_all = TRUE)

There were 116 (unique) tweets in this hashtag. I can use the tidytext package to analyze them, using a custom regular expression.

library(BiocInstaller)

# to avoid non-package words
built_in <- tolower(sessionInfo()$basePkgs)
cran_pkgs <- tolower(rownames(available.packages()))
bioc_pkgs <- tolower(rownames(available.packages(repos = biocinstallRepos()[1:3])))
blacklist <- c("all")

library(tidytext)

spl_re <- "[^a-zA-Z\\d\\@\\#\\.]"
link_re <- "https://t.co/[A-Za-z\\d]+|&amp;"

packages <- tweets %>%
  mutate(text = str_replace_all(text, link_re, "")) %>%
  unnest_tokens(package, text, token = "regex", pattern = spl_re) %>%
  filter(package %in% c(cran_pkgs, bioc_pkgs, built_in)) %>%
  distinct(id, package) %>%
  filter(!package %in% blacklist)

pkg_counts <- packages %>%
  count(package, sort = TRUE)

Note that since a lot of non-package words got mixed in with these tweets, I filtered for only packages in CRAN and Bioconductor (so packages that are only on GitHub or elsewhere won’t be included, though anecdotally I didn’t notice any among the tweets). Tweeters were sometimes inconsistent about case as well, so I kept all packages lowercase throughout this analysis.

General results

There were 700 occurrences of 184 packages in these tweets. What were the most common?

center

Some observations:

  • ggplot2 and dplyr were the most popular packages, each mentioned by more than half the tweets, and other packages by Hadley like tidyr, devtools, purrr and stringr weren’t far behind. This isn’t too surprising, since much of the attention to the hashtag came with Hadley’s tweet.
  • The next most popular packages involved reproducible research (rmarkdown and knitr), along with other RStudio tools like shiny. What if I excluded packages maintained by RStudio (or RStudio employees like Hadley and Yihui)?

center

  • The vast majority of packages people listed as their favorite were CRAN packages: only 7 Bioconductor packages were mentioned (though it’s worth noting they occurred across four different tweets):
packages %>%
  filter(package %in% bioc_pkgs)
## # A tibble: 7 x 2
##                   id       package
##                <chr>         <chr>
## 1 765622260556238848          xcms
## 2 765637117976387584         edger
## 3 765637117976387584         limma
## 4 765669197284245504       biomart
## 5 765669197284245504 genomicranges
## 6 765669197284245504        deseq2
## 7 765630231948308481    genefilter
  • There were 109 CRAN packages that were mentioned only once, and those showed a rather large variety. A random sample of 10:
set.seed(2016)
pkg_counts %>%
  filter(n == 1, !package %in% bioc_pkgs) %>%
  sample_n(10)
## # A tibble: 10 x 2
##       package     n
##         <chr> <int>
## 1      fclust     1
## 2          dt     1
## 3   shinystan     1
## 4        domc     1
## 5     mapview     1
## 6        daff     1
## 7     pbapply     1
## 8  visnetwork     1
## 9          af     1
## 10        arm     1

Correlations

What packages tend to be “co-favorited”- that is, listed by the same people? Here I’m using my in-development widyr package, which makes it easy to calculate pairwise correlations in a tidy data frame.

# install with devtools::install_github("dgrtwo/widyr")
library(widyr)

# use only packages with at least 4 mentions, to reduce noise
pkg_counts <- packages %>%
  count(package) %>%
  filter(n >= 4)

pkg_correlations <- packages %>%
  semi_join(pkg_counts) %>%
  pairwise_cor(package, id, sort = TRUE, upper = FALSE)

pkg_correlations
## # A tibble: 465 x 3
##         item1       item2 correlation
##         <chr>       <chr>       <dbl>
## 1        base    graphics   0.5813129
## 2    graphics       stats   0.4716609
## 3        base       stats   0.4495913
## 4       dplyr       tidyr   0.3822511
## 5       rstan    rstanarm   0.3791074
## 6       dplyr     ggplot2   0.3483315
## 7     ggplot2       knitr   0.3032979
## 8       dplyr       shiny   0.3027743
## 9  data.table htmlwidgets   0.2937083
## 10    ggplot2       tidyr   0.2811096
## # ... with 455 more rows

For instance, this shows the greatest correlation (technically a phi coefficient) were between the base, graphics, and stats packages, by people showing loyalty to built in packages.

I like using the ggraph package to visualize these relationships:

library(ggraph)
library(igraph)

set.seed(2016)

# we set an arbitrary threshold of connectivity
pkg_correlations %>%
  filter(correlation > .2) %>%
  graph_from_data_frame(vertices = pkg_counts) %>%
  ggraph(layout = "fr") +
  geom_edge_link(aes(edge_alpha = correlation)) +
  geom_node_point(aes(size = n), color = "lightblue") +
  theme_void() +
  geom_node_text(aes(label = name), repel = TRUE) +
  theme(legend.position = "none")

center

You can recognize most of RStudio’s packages (ggplot2, dplyr, tidyr, knitr, shiny) in the cluster on the bottom left of the graph. At the bottom right you can see the “base” cluster (stats, base, utils, grid, graphics), with people who showed their loyalty to base packages.

Beyond that, the relationships are a bit harder to parse (outside of some expected combinations like rstan and rstanarm): we may just not have enough data to create reliable correlations.

Compared to CRAN dependencies

This isn’t a particularly scientific survey, to say the least. So how does it compare to another metric of a package’s popularity: the number of packages that Depend, Import, or Suggest it on CRAN? (You could also compare to # of CRAN downloads using the cranlogs package, but since most downloads are due to dependencies, the two metrics give rather similar results).

We can discover this using the available.packages() function, along with some processing.

library(tidyr)

pkgs <- available.packages() %>%
  as.data.frame() %>%
  tbl_df()

requirements <- pkgs %>%
  unite(Requires, Depends, Imports, Suggests, sep = ",") %>%
  transmute(Package = as.character(Package),
            Requires = as.character(Requires)) %>%
  unnest(Requires = str_split(Requires, ",")) %>%
  mutate(Requires = str_replace(Requires, "\n", "")) %>%
  mutate(Requires = str_trim(str_replace(Requires, "\\(.*", ""))) %>%
  filter(!(Requires %in% c("R", "NA", "", built_in)))

requirements
## # A tibble: 34,781 x 2
##    Package     Requires
##      <chr>        <chr>
## 1       A3       xtable
## 2       A3      pbapply
## 3       A3 randomForest
## 4       A3        e1071
## 5   abbyyR         httr
## 6   abbyyR          XML
## 7   abbyyR         curl
## 8   abbyyR        readr
## 9   abbyyR     progress
## 10  abbyyR     testthat
## # ... with 34,771 more rows
package_info <- requirements %>%
  count(Package = Requires) %>%
  rename(NRequiredBy = n) %>%
  left_join(count(requirements, Package)) %>%
  rename(NRequires = n) %>%
  replace_na(list(NRequires = 0))

package_info
## # A tibble: 2,925 x 3
##               Package NRequiredBy NRequires
##                 <chr>       <int>     <dbl>
## 1              a4Base           1         0
## 2              a4Core           1         0
## 3                 abc           3         5
## 4            abc.data           2         0
## 5                 abd           1        12
## 6               abind          95         0
## 7  AcceptanceSampling           1         0
## 8             acepack           2         0
## 9                 acp           1         2
## 10                acs           3         4
## # ... with 2,915 more rows

We can compare the number of mentions in the hashtag to the number of pacakges:

center

Some like dplyr, ggplot2, and knitr are popular both within the hashtag and as CRAN dependencies. Some relatively new packages like purrr are popular on Twitter but haven’t built up as many packages needing them, and others like plyr and foreach are a common dependency but are barely mentioned. (This isn’t even counting the many packages never mentioned in the hashtag).

Since we have this dependency data, I can’t resist looking for correlations just like we did with the hashtag data. What packages tend to be depended on together?

## # A tibble: 64,770 x 3
##            item1         item2 correlation
##            <chr>         <chr>       <dbl>
## 1           R.oo   R.methodsS3   0.9031741
## 2    R.methodsS3          R.oo   0.9031741
## 3     doParallel       foreach   0.7341718
## 4        foreach    doParallel   0.7341718
## 5       timeDate    timeSeries   0.7084369
## 6     timeSeries      timeDate   0.7084369
## 7  gWidgetsRGtk2      gWidgets   0.6974373
## 8       gWidgets gWidgetsRGtk2   0.6974373
## 9           ergm       network   0.6336521
## 10       network          ergm   0.6336521
## # ... with 64,760 more rows

center

(I skipped the code for these, but you can find it all here).

Some observations from the full network (while it’s not related to the hashtag, still quite interesting):

  • The RStudio cluster is prominent in the lower left, with ggplot2, knitr and testthat serving as the core anchors. A lot of packages depend on these in combination.
  • You can spot a tight cluster of spatial statistics packages in the upper left (around “sp”) and of machine learning packages near the bottom right (around caret, rpart, and nnet)
  • Smaller clusters include parallelization on the left (parallel, doParallel), time series forecasting on the upper right (zoo, xts, forecast), and parsing API data on top (RCurl, rjson, XML)

One thing I like about this 2D layout (much as I’ve done with programming languages using Stack Overflow data) is that we can bring in our hashtag information, and spot visually what types of packages tended to be favorited.

center

This confirms our observation that the favorited packages are slanted towards the tidyverse/RStudio cluster.

The #7First and #7Fav hashtags have been dying down a bit, but it may still be interesting to try this analysis for others, especially ones with more activity. Maëlle Salmon is working on a great analysis of #7FirstJobs and I’m sure others would be informative.

25 Aug 21:59

What’s Up with SUMO – 25th August

by Michał

Hello, SUMO Nation!

Another hot week behind us, and you kept us going – thank you for that! Here is a portion of the latest and greatest news from the world of SUMO – your world :-)

Welcome, new contributors!

If you just joined us, don’t hesitate – come over and say “hi” in the forums!

Contributors of the week

Don’t forget that if you are new to SUMO and someone helped you get started in a nice way you can nominate them for the Buddy of the Month!

Most recent SUMO Community meeting

The next SUMO Community meeting

  • …is happening on the 31st of August!
  • If you want to add a discussion topic to the upcoming meeting agenda:
    • Start a thread in the Community Forums, so that everyone in the community can see what will be discussed and voice their opinion here before Wednesday (this will make it easier to have an efficient meeting).
    • Please do so as soon as you can before the meeting, so that people have time to read, think, and reply (and also add it to the agenda).
    • If you can, please attend the meeting in person (or via IRC), so we can follow up on your discussion topic during the meeting with your feedback.

Community

Social

Support Forum

  • All quiet, keep up the awesome work, people :-)

Knowledge Base & L10n

Firefox

  • for Android
    • Version 49 will offer offline caching for some web pages. Take a bit of the net with you outside of the network’s range!
  • for iOS
    • Nothing new to report about iOS for now… Stay tuned for news in the future!

… and we’re done! We hope you have a great week(end) and that you come back soon to keep rocking the helpful web with us!

P.S. Just in case you missed it, here’s a great read about the way we want you to make Mozilla look better in the future.

25 Aug 23:31

WhatsApp updates terms of service, will begin sharing information with Facebook

by Igor Bonifacic

For the first time since it was acquired by Facebook back in 2014 for close to $20 billion, Whatsapp has updated its terms of service. In a move that’s sure to irritate some users, the company says it will begin to share a limited amount of user data with Facebook.

“By coordinating more with Facebook, we’ll be able to do things like track basic metrics regarding how often people use our services and better fight spam on WhatsApp,” says the company in a blog post announcing the new terms of service. “And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, the social can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of.”

“And by connecting your phone number with Facebook’s systems, Facebook can offer better friend suggestions and show you more relevant ads if you have an account with them. For example, you might see an ad from a company you already work with, rather than one from someone you’ve never heard of.”

The messaging app also notes it’s beginning to explore ways to allow businesses to contact users. Facebook’s own messaging app, Messenger, already allows users to communicate with business through chat bots. In Whatsapp’s case, the company doesn’t posit advertising as the main use case for business-to-user communication. For instance, the company sees envisions banks contacting users through Whatsapp to tell them about fraudulent transaction, while airlines might do the same to tell ticket holders a flight has been delayed.

While Whatsapp is quick to attempt to preempt any criticism of its new terms of the service, its new rules are sure to feel like a betrayal to many of its more than 1-billion users. When the company was acquired by Facebook in 2014, founder Jan Koum said privacy would always be at the heart of Whatsapp.

“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible: You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address. We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work,” said Koum in a blog post published at the time. “We don’t know your likes, what you search for on the internet or collect your GPS location. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.”

Related: WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption to all communication on its service

SourceWhatsapp
25 Aug 15:21

"Grad Students Unionizing: A Signal For White Collar Workers" in Work Futures

by Stowe Boyd

Will 330,000 layoffs in tech lead to an awakening?

Continue reading on Work Futures »

24 Aug 14:01

Recommended on Medium: "An Exclusive Look at How AI and Machine Learning Work at Apple" in Backchannel

The iBrain is here — and it’s already inside your phone.

Continue reading on Backchannel »

25 Aug 16:55

Recommended on Medium: What would you like to see most in a consumer cloud phone number app?

Hello everyone out there who doesn’t need unlimited minutes and messaging with their phone. I’m doing a new side project that puts your…

Continue reading on »

25 Aug 16:56

Boomer: “Millennials want open office spaces.”Millennial: “We want to be...

25 Aug 18:12

Uber Loses at Least $1.2 Billion in First Half of 2016 https://t.co/ZJRhhMMFp9 Is this growing pains...

25 Aug 20:04

Sophisticated, persistent mobile attack against high-value targets on iOS

by Volker Weber

From the lookout blog:

Lookout’s analysis determined that the malware exploits three zero-day vulnerabilities, or Trident, in Apple iOS:
  1. CVE-2016-4655: Information leak in Kernel – A kernel base mapping vulnerability that leaks information to the attacker allowing him to calculate the kernel’s location in memory.
  2. CVE-2016-4656: Kernel Memory corruption leads to Jailbreak – 32 and 64 bit iOS kernel-level vulnerabilities that allow the attacker to silently jailbreak the device and install surveillance software.
  3. CVE-2016-4657: Memory Corruption in Webkit – A vulnerability in the Safari WebKit that allows the attacker to compromise the device when the user clicks on a link.

Without a jailbreak you can't install the exploit. That is why Apple regards a jailbreak as a number one security threat. As does BlackBerry on their Android devices.

You can help the attacker by applying a jailbreak (or root access in case of Android). Then they only need the third attack vector. You have already let down your guard.

More >

25 Aug 14:56

‘Pink Gold’ Galaxy S7 and S7 edge Come to the US; Exclusive to Best Buy

by Rajesh Pandey
With the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge reaching its half-year anniversary, Samsung has teamed up with Best Buy to launch a ‘Pink Gold’ variant of the handsets in the United States. Samsung had first launched the Pink Gold variant of its flagship handsets in South Korea earlier this year. Continue reading →
25 Aug 15:19

How to not share your WhatsApp account information with Facebook

by Volker Weber

Facebook is an ad platform. Get used to it. It's not a social network. It is an ad platform. Got it?

An ad platform works best if it knows your social graph. Not the hundreds of "friends" but the people you are talking to. Likes and comments. And chats. That is your real social graph. That is what Facebook Messenger does. And WhatsApp now as well.

Did you notice how Facebook pressured you to leave your phone number to make your account "more secure"? It's your ID. And by joining your WhatsApp graph (who do you chat with), your Facebook account becomes more valuable.

If you are an existing user, you can choose not to share your account information with Facebook to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences.

New user? Tough luck.

More >

25 Aug 15:46

What comes after the firetruck?

by Volker Weber

As you get older you lose many capabilities. As much as I'd love to ride a longboard, that has become way too dangerous for my bones.

But you gain something from watching the world around you. It's like a carousel. Firetruck, horse, motorcycle, car, ... and then firetruck, horse, motorcycle, car ... You don't have a time machine, and you still know the future.

About eleven years ago I went to a Groupwise conference. I knew for a fact that Novell was milking its customer base. But here they were, a rather small group of people very enthusiastic about their platform. There was a keynote, there were small features being added to the product. There was a beta of Groupwise 7, etc.

I don't make this carousel go around. I can't stop it. But I do know what comes after the firetruck.

25 Aug 16:21

HP Elite x3 now available to pre-order in Canada for $1000

by Igor Bonifacic

The Elite x3, HP’s massive new Windows 10-powered smartphone, is now available to pre-order in Canada via the online Microsoft Store.

Priced at $1000 outright, the Elite x3 comes with a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of expandable internal storage, Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, 4,150 mAh battery, 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and a massive 5.96-inch WQHD display.

Pre-orders come with the HP Elite x3 desk dock, which allows anyone who buys this phone to use it, with the help of Windows 10’s Continuum Feature, as a full-fledged desktop PC — provided they have access to a monitor and mouse and keyboard.

Announced back at Mobile World Congress, the Elite x3 was originally set to come out in Canada this week, but, at least for people who order it via the Microsoft Store, the phone is now set to come out on September 12.

Related: HP announces business-focused, Windows 10-powered Elite x3 phablet

25 Aug 12:32

"We are fond of observing that our urban world is a complex one, that it changes with a rapidity..."

We are fond of observing that our urban world is a complex one, that it changes with a rapidity beyond real comprehension, and finally, that it is a disjointed world.

At certain moments in our urbane lives we relish all the diversity and disjointedness of cities, and bask in the variety of them. Certainly cities have been the locus of man’s most creative moments in history, because of the varied experience they afford us.But when a plethora of stimuli begins to divert us from receptive consciousness, the city renders us insensible. Then, in our inability to order experience, we suffer the city, and long for some adequate means to comprehend it as a product of men like ourselves—as the product of an intelligent, ordering force. If the scientist is frustrated when the order or pattern of phenomena is too fleeting for him to observe, or too complex to recognize with extant tools, so is the city dweller frustrated when he cannot find human order in his environment. At those moments when he sees only the results of mechanical and economic processes controlling the form and feel of his place, he must feel estranged, and outside.

If urban design is to fulfill its role, to make a contribution to the form of the city, it must do more than simply organize mechanical forces, and make physical unity from diversity. It must recognise the meaning of the order it seeks to manufacture, a humanely significant, spatial order.



-

Fumihiko Maki 

(h/t inthenoosphere)

25 Aug 13:41

"A recent paper by Jonathan Rothwell, a senior economist at Gallup, based on 87,428 interviews..."

A recent paper by Jonathan Rothwell, a senior economist at Gallup, based on 87,428 interviews conducted by the organization between July 2015 and July 2016, showed this seemingly surprising finding: Support for Mr. Trump wasn’t strongly related to income and employment. In fact, among whites with similar educational levels, those who held favorable views of Mr. Trump had higher incomes and were no more likely to be out of the work force than those who held unfavorable views of him.

But that doesn’t mean that economic distress is irrelevant to Trump’s supporters. Rather, the interviews show that people’s satisfaction with their standard of living, and their subsequent political choices, depends on more than how many dollars they bring home each week. Their happiness depends on their reference group: whom are they comparing themselves to?

People often compare their standard of living with the standard they experienced while growing up. The most dissatisfied individuals tend to be the ones who don’t think they have matched or exceeded their parents’ economic standing. One might fault them for their narrow focus on their own kin, but they have merely bought into the American idea of progress — which implies that every generation should have a better life than the previous one — and found their own situation wanting. Typical survey measures of income and employment don’t capture the influence of these glances back in time.

This principle suggests that we should expect greater support for Mr. Trump among the downwardly mobile — those who believe that they aren’t doing as well as the previous generation — even if their incomes aren’t that low.



-

Andrew Cherlin, The Downwardly Mobile for Trump

Trump’s attracted the downwardly mobile and the immobile: those who perceive themselves as not surpassing their parents’ levels of economic status.

I remember reading a few years ago that people think they’ve been successful if they exceed their parent’s income by 30%. This is a foundationaly self-assessment that Trump has tapped into.

25 Aug 15:00

Grad Students Unionizing: A Signal For White Collar Workers

The National Labor Relations Board finally got out of its own way after a decade of dithering, and ruled this week that grad students who double as teaching and research assistants who work at private universities do, in fact, have the right to organize and press their employers for better pay and working conditions.

D’uh.

The NLRB observed that there is no salient laws that would suggest that these workers should be singled out and deprived of their right to organize. Earlier rulings by the Board – as in 2004 – found the opposite, basically lying down to universities’ claims that organizing would harm the relationship between the schools and their students. There has been no such disruption in colleges where such unions have been formed, and note that 35,000 teaching a research assistants have formed unions across the country. 

The reality is simply this: universities want to hold down their costs and will use whatever tactics to do so. This is the most blatant indication of the corporatizing of education, along with the rising salaries of top administrators, and don’t forget tuition costs, which are growing at a large multiple of inflation.

The editorial board of the NY Times offers this, pointing out that corporate universities are excising the tenure track model of academia, and replacing much of what professors used to do with low-paid alternatives:

Unions in the Ivory Tower

In recent decades, as tenure-track positions at universities have declined precipitously, teaching and research — the mainstay of universities — have increasingly been taken up by adjunct faculty members and graduate assistants, without commensurate increase in pay, status or career opportunities. On many campuses, teaching and research assistants are essentially low-paid, white-collar workers, typically earning around $30,000 a year, most of whom will never get tenure-track positions. 

The question going forward is the extent to which those new unions will help improve working conditions in academic life.

I think the question going forward is more broad than that: should white collar workers, in whatever industry, organize like the grad students and adjunct faculty have in academia? How else to counter the inequality that is baked into the economic system, and to counter the forces of corporatism? 

The trick has been to maintain the pretense that non-blue-collar workers – the creatives, knowledge workers, and freelancers that make up the bulk of the white collar workforce – have more in common with the management than with the other workers, or with each other. 

After all, the story goes, you aspire to be a manager, don’t you? You read all that entrepreneurial aspirational rah-rah boosterist leadership bilge on Medium, right? You’re not a ‘worker’, are you, sweating for your daily loaf? You have a calling, you’re chasing your dream, following your passion. You’re the next Steve Jobs, not Cesar Chavez, for Christ’s sake! You are a leader in the making, more like the millionaire running your company than the unionized cooks and clerks in the cafeteria, right?

Right.

There are no salient laws that block the creatives in marketing, the programmers in development, or even the sales guys from unionizing. Even better, the freelancers should do it, and demand a better deal, instead of getting screwed by paying both halves of their social security, non-existent benefits, and all the liabilities. (Note that Uber drivers are waking up, and bringing the on-demand behemoth to court for redress.)

No one is stopping white collar workers from tearing down this façade except themselves.

Maybe it’s not as obvious in other industries, and certainly the folks in tech are getting large salaries relative to everyone else. But as the tech sector starts to make huge cuts – Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research says as many as 330,000 staff could be cut this year as part of what he calls a ‘deconstruction’ of the industry – we might expect that many occupations will start paying less, or what was formerly a steady, secure and highly-compensated job will be filled by a freelancer for much less dough, and little or no security. Like all those former tenured professorships now being deconstructed into second-tier, ramen-pay jobs for adjunct faculty and grad students.

Maybe after the experience of unionizing while working to get their graduate degrees, all those research and teaching assistants – when transitioning to the world outside of academia – might consider unionization as sensible and normal, not just a weird retro 1930s thing that no one does anymore.

25 Aug 16:35

How to Install Android 7.0 Nougat on Nexus 5

by Rajesh Pandey
Almost 3 years after its launch, the Nexus 5 has now reached its life, which means that it will not be receiving the Android 7.0 Nougat update. While Google thinks that the Nexus 5 does not pack enough grunt to run Android 7.0 smoothly, the Android community thinks otherwise. Continue reading →