Motorola’s newest smartphone will be available in Canada on July 31st. The Moto G (2015) is heading to Bell, Koodo, Telus, Virgin Mobile, and to Wind Mobile “in the coming weeks.”
Motorola stated the cost of the 5-inch Moto G is “about $199″ outright. According to an internal document we received, we can confirm the pricing for this powerful entry-level Android will be $230 no-term and, as expected, $0 on a 2-year term. This is not too surprising as the Moto G LTE (2014) was released at a similar cost a year ago.
The doc was from Telus and other carriers, specifically Bell, will be launching at the $199.95 price point.
The most notable improvements to the new Moto G is improved 13MP camera (the same sensor found in the Nexus 6), and a 2,470mAh battery. In addition, Lollipop-powered Android features IPx7 water resistance.
Read More: Hands-on with the Moto G 2015
After spending 56 hours researching 33 monitors and testing our finalists, the $549 Dell UltraSharp U2715H is the 27-inch monitor we recommend for most people right now. It has the best picture quality of any monitor we tested right out of the box. It’s the monitor to get if you want a bigger picture and more workspace in Windows or OS X, since its 2560×1440 resolution is ideal for photos, videos, and gaming.
Looming over us was this crane complex, not unattractive at all.
If it looks kind of grainy that’s because I’d fat-fingered the camera into shooting at ISO6400. But the X-T1 is sufficiently resilient that this (like many other of my photo-miscues) came out OK. Which is especially true when you shoot through the stupidly-good Fuji XF35mm.
But wait! There are more cranes and they’ve got the mountains behind them.
Immodest confession: This picture makes me happy. That has nothing to do with the photo-technique (Fuji XF55-200 and substantial Lightrooming). It’s because it captures at least a half-dozen really good reasons to live here in Vancouver, a thing I’m seriously invested in.
But wait! There’s something about that first crane, too… there’s our Moon, nestling in its angles.
Or could Luna be perhaps sliding down steel ropes just for fun?
I have another take on this shot without all the ISO6400 clutter — you can see Luna’s seas — but not as well framed.
We all hear the common refrain these days that more people should learn to program, not just CS majors. I agree. If you know how to program, you can make things. Even if you don't write many programs yourself, you are better prepared to talk to the programmers who make things for you. And even if you don't need to talk to programmers, you have expanded your mind a bit to a way of thinking that is changing the world we live in.
But there are two sides to this equation, as Chris Crawford laments in his essay, Fundamentals of Interactivity:
Why is it that our entertainment software has such primitive algorithms in it? The answer lies in the people creating them. The majority are programmers. Programmers aren't really idea people; they're technical people. Yes, they use their brains a great deal in their jobs. But they don't live in the world of ideas. Scan a programmer's bookshelf and you'll find mostly technical manuals plus a handful of science fiction novels. That's about the extent of their reading habits. Ask a programmer about Rabelais, Vivaldi, Boethius, Mendel, Voltaire, Churchill, or Van Gogh, and you'll draw a blank. Gene pools? Grimm's Law? Gresham's Law? Negentropy? Fluxions? The mind-body problem? Most programmers cannot be troubled with such trivia. So how can we expect them to have interesting ideas to put into their algorithms? The result is unsurprising: the algorithms in most entertainment products are boring, predictable, uninformed, and pedestrian. They're about as interesting in conversation as the programmers themselves.
We do have some idea people working on interactive entertainment; more of them show up in multimedia than in games. Unfortunately, most of the idea people can't program. They refuse to learn the technology well enough to express themselves in the language of the medium. I don't understand this cruel joke that Fate has played upon the industry: programmers have no ideas and idea people can't program. Arg!
My office bookshelf occasionally elicits a comment or two from first-time visitors, because even here at work I have a complete works of Shakespeare, a thin volume of William Blake (I love me some Blake!), several philosophy books, and "The Brittanica Book of Usage". I really should have some Voltaire here, too. I do cover one of Crawford's bases: a recent blog entry made a software analogy to Gresham's Law.
In general, I think you're more likely to find a computer scientist who knows some literature than you are to find a literary professional who knows much CS. That's partly an artifact of our school system and partly a result of the wider range historically of literature and the humanities. It's fun to run into a colleague from across campus who has read deeply in some area of science or math, but rare.
However, we are all prone to fall into the chasm of our own specialties and miss out on the well-roundedness that makes us better at whatever specialty we practice. That's one reason that, when high school students and their parents ask me what students should take to prepare for a CS major, I tell them: four years of all the major subjects, including English, math, science, social science, and the arts; plus whatever else interests them, because that's often where they will learn the most. All of these topics help students to become better computer scientists, and better people.
And, not surprisingly, better game developers. I agree with Crawford that more programmers should be learn enough other stuff to be idea people, too. Even if they don't make games.
You know something is up when the social democrats are trailing the centrist pundits on the economy. The space for a just a mild Keynesian alternative in Canada is wide open. Such an alternative, however, needs a political rather than merely a technocratic push.
Here is a fragment of a piece that just appeared in Canadian Business magazine and is typical of recent centrist commentary:
No one would counsel a return to unchecked spending. But the magical thinking around balanced budgets should stop. Canada’s debt is a sunk cost, not an anchor. The IMF now advises that countries with enough fiscal room to manoeuvre should think twice about reducing debt for the sake of it. If debt is manageable, economic growth should be the priority. An expanding economy will reduce the debt burden organically.
After establishing centrist credentials via the bogeyman of “unchecked spending”, the author quickly offers an argument to the left of all three major political parties, including the NDP. Debt reduction for its own sake is contrasted with restarting economic growth and there’s even an appearance of the now-common progressive appeal to the IMF as the voice of technocratic reason.
The left counterpart to this centrist line is the “Varoufakiste” argument of trying “to save capitalism from itself…to minimise the unnecessary human toll from crisis.” This argument concedes that today even the meager gains from growth that would go to the many are better than redistributive austerity that encourages stagnation amidst the “creative destruction” of social protections. It is a modest Keynesianism fit for neoliberal times.
In comparison, the drift of rhetoric towards balanced budgets at all costs as the backbone of fiscal policy is not only economically toxic, but politically facile. Take the two reports released by the Parliamentary Budget Officer last week. That released on Thursday, which adjusted the government’s forecast budget surplus to a $1 billion deficit got all the press and attracted the most commentary. It was a great “gotcha!” moment: the Conservatives who pulled all the tricks in the book to balance the federal budget in an election year are nevertheless headed for a deficit. It’s a fair point, but giving it almost exclusive focus means that we’re stuck playing the game with the goalposts still shifted far to the right.
Little noticed was another report released by the PBO just one day earlier. Wednesday’s Fiscal Sustainability Report is arguably far more important. Put in stark terms, the report states that further austerity is a purely political choice. Here’s one of the report’s chief conclusions:
Federal net debt is eliminated over the next 35 years under the baseline scenario. To maintain the debt-to-GDP ratio at its current level over the long term, the federal government could permanently increase spending or reduce taxes by up to 1.4 per cent of GDP. This would require setting aside its balanced budget law.
Translated, this means that even given the current tax mix and keeping the debt-to-GDP constant there is room for up to $28 billion more in spending per year every year. Given economic growth, moderate deficits will keep debt-to-GDP constant. What’s more, both of the assumptions on keeping taxes and the debt ratio constant could easily be challenged by even the mildest of Keynesian alternatives.
For instance, Canada’s debt is extremely low both by historical standards and compared to other advanced economies. As the Keynesian argument suggests, it would be easily sustainable at higher levels, all the more so given a reorientation towards growth (not to mention important functions it serves, providing both a safe asset and liquidity while acting as a stabilizing mechanism).
The relative and absolute levels of debt, however, are not just a technical statistics but fundamentally political. The room for deficit spending explicitly referenced in the PBO report requires not only a fiscal policy reoriented towards the social majority but also greater political engagement and power in the hands of this majority so that the debt is not used as a political tool that continues the upward redistribution of wealth and income.
It is plainly possible to maintain the current low debt-to-GDP ratio or even and lower it further; however, doing so in the context a commodity boom that’s run out of steam, sluggish domestic demand and humdrum investment while avoiding a negative impact on elites will mean stagnant wages and fewer public services for the majority of society. Further austerity means lower taxes on the rich and fewer labour protections, less and lower quality services and thus more precarious life for the many.
The modest alternative of a return to growth and an economy that stops to function as an upside down funnel is there for the taking, but it is not a simple policy choice. It’s not that growth-friendly policies like a public childcare program that creates good jobs and release more women into the labour force or an investment fund that helps spur green innovation won’t benefit elites, but that the austerity consensus might benefit them more.
Countering this means not only appealing to elites for an expansionary policy but engaging with the social majority for an alternative politics.
An update as promised: all systems are now ‘Go’ on the technical side (pun intended) and we intend to release Frontier this week.
Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on my previous blog post. What became apparent is that prior to the big day, many of you wanted to know more about what the sequence of events would exactly be, and how to prepare your machine for the release.
Frontier users will need to first generate, then load the Genesis block into their Ethereum client. The Genesis block is pretty much a database file: it contains all the transactions from the Ether sale, and when a user inputs it into the client, it represents their decision to join the network under its terms: it is the first step to consensus.
Because the ether pre-sale took place entirely on the bitcoin blockchain, its contents are public, and anyone can generate and verify the Genesis block. In the interest of decentralization and transparency, Ethereum will not provide the Genesis block as a download, but instead has created an open source script that anyone can use to generate the file, a link to which can be found later on in this article.
Since the script is already available and the release needs to be coordinated, an argument to the script has to be provided in order to ‘kick off’ Frontier in unison. But how can we do this and stay decentralized?
The argument needs to be a random parameter that no one, not even us, can predict. As you can imagine, there aren’t too many parameters in the world that match this criteria, but a good one is the hash of a future block on the Ethereum testnet. We had to pick a block number, but which one? 1,028,201 turns out to be both prime and palindromic, just the way we like it. So #1028201 is it.
Sequence of steps to the release:
First, you’ll need the client installed, I’ll use Geth as an example, but the same can be achieved with Eth (the C++ implementation of Ethereum). Geth installation instructions for Windows, Linux and OSX can be found on our wiki.
Once you have installed a client, you need to download the python script that generates the Genesis file. It’s called ‘mk_genesis_block.py’, and can be downloaded here.
Depending on your platform, you can also download it from the console by installing curl and running;
curl -O https://raw.githubusercontent.com/ethereum/genesis_block_generator/master/mk_genesis_block.py
This will create the file in the same folder where you invoked the command. You now need to install the pybitcointools created by our very own Vitalik Buterin. You can obtain this through the python package manager pip, so we’ll install pip first, then the tools right afterwards.
The following instructions should work on OSX and Linux. Windows users, good news, pip ships with the standard Python installer.
curl -O https://bootstrap.pypa.io/get-pip.py sudo python get-pip.py
sudo pip install bitcoin
or (if you had it installed already),
sudo pip install --upgrade bitcoin
One last step, if you are using Eth, we recently to support the new Genesis block parameter, so you’ll need to pick up the correct release of the software to be ready for the big day:
cd ~/go-ethereum/ git checkout release/1.0.0 git pull make geth
Those who would like to be ‘as ready as possible’ can follow instructions up to this point, that said, a
git pull just before the fateful block is probably recommended to operate the newest version of any software.
If you have been running the clients before:
For a complete breakdown as to where the config files are located, please check out this page on our forums.
Then, it’s a matter of waiting for block #1028201, which at the current block resolution time, should be formed approximately Thursday evening GMT+0.
Once 1028201 has formed, its hash will be accessible by querying a node running the testnet using
web3.eth.getBlock(1028201).hash, however we will also make that value available on this blog as well as all our social media channels.
You will then be able to generate the Genesis block by running:
python mk_genesis_block.py --extradata hash_for_#1028201_goes_here > genesis_block.json
By default, the script uses Blockr and Blockchain.info to fetch the Genesis pre-sale results. You can also add the
--insight switch if you’d instead prefer to use the private Ethereum server to obtain this information. If you are facing issues with the script, please raise an issue on its github.
While we will not provide the Genesis block as a file, we will still provide the Genesis block hash (shortly after we generate it ourselves) in order to insure that third party invalid or malicious files are easily discarded by the community.
Once you are satisfied with the generation of the Genesis block, you can load it into the clients using this command:
./build/bin/geth --genesis genesis_block.json
./build/eth/eth --genesis genesis_block.json
From there, instructions on creating an account, importing your pre-sale wallet, transacting, etc., can be found on the ‘Getting Started’ Frontier guide at http://guide.ethereum.org/
Note that if you’ve used Ethereum before, you should generate new keys using a recent (RC) client, and not reuse testnet keys.
We also would like to give you a bit of heads up on the ‘thawing’ phase — the period during which the gas limit per block will be set very low to allow the network to grow slowly before transactions can take place. You should expect network instability at the very beginning of the release, including forks, potential abnormal display of information on our http://stats.ethdev.com page, and various Peer to Peer connectivity issues. Just like during the Olympic phase, we expect this instability to settle after a few hours/days.
We would also like to remind everyone that while we intend to provide a safe platform in the long term, Frontier is a technical release directed at a developer audience, and not a general public release. Please keep in mind that early software is often affected by bugs, issues with instability and complex user interfaces. If you would prefer a more user friendly experience, we encourage you to wait for the future Homestead or Metropolis Ethereum releases.
Please be especially wary of third party websites and software of unknown origin — Ethereum will only ever publish software through its github platform at https://github.com/ethereum/.
Finally, for clarity, it’s important to note that the Olympic program ended at block 1M this morning, however, the bug bounty is still on — and will continue until further notice. Security vulnerabilities, if found, should continue to be reported to https://bounty.ethdev.com/.
27/07/15: added instructions for users upgrading from previous installations
28/07/15: minor edits, added link to script github
29/07/15: added recommendation to create new keys and not reuse testnet ones
This breathtaking image of Pluto was taken by the NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on July 15. The photo shows Pluto’s atmosphere backlit by the sun and reveals layers of haze that are several times higher than scientists predicted (as high as 80 miles).
The image was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) from Pluto.
To learn more about how the photo was taken and what this image means for scientific discovery, visit the photo link here.
We also encourage you to follow NASA Goddard’s photostream on Flickr to discover more stunning images.
This slim pannier rack is tough enough to cross continents, but designed for city commuters, city bikes, and bolt-on wheels.
The hand-welded aluminum rack is perfect for bikes with compact geometry and solid axle wheels (like ours). The included brackets also mount easily to quick-release skewers and eyelets, and set the bag back almost 2.5" to avoid any heel strike while pedaling.
The result is stuff carried on your bike, instead of your body, with ease.
Available in standard black or painted any color of the rainbow.
If you want a pannier rack with a lifetime guarantee for daily/nightly commuting, start here. Full details and dimensions. >>>
This article first appeared on Educating Modern Learners in April 2015
"Learning is not a counting noun," says Dave Cormier, "so what should we count?"
His question - a writing prompt, if you will - comes from Week 2 of his latest MOOC on "Rhizomatic Learning." It's an incredibly provocative question as I think it recognizes that we cannot really count learning and that, at the same time, we find ourselves having to do just that. We do so not simply because of policy demands (although, goodness there is that) but because we do want to learn something and we want to know that we're making progress, whatever it is that might look like.
An early advocate for open online learning, Dave Cormier is credited for coining the term "MOOC." His work, broadly speaking, involves this question of "rhizomatic learning." It drawing on the work of philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, and the idea of the "rhizome" - that there's a multiplicity to knowledge, information, and data, with a wide array of access points, interpretations, and influences on it.
A connectivist MOOC, "Rhizomatic Learning: A Practical View" - #rhizo15 for short - is something worth paying attention to as it both enacts and explores modern learning for educators-as-learners. Anyone can participate. You can sign up for the mailing list here.
The course description:
Rhizomatic learning is a story for learning that starts from the idea that this standard doesn't exist. It posits a learning experience where the curriculum of the course is the people that are in it. Given access to an abundance of content, how can we design a learning experience that celebrates complexity and creativity, rather than an artificial standard of knowing? A course experience where each student is encouraged to map their own learning?
This open course will tackle the practical realities of teaching this way. The participants of this course will be the curriculum.
The participants are the curriculum, and as Week 1's discussion made clear, the goal is to think about "learning subjectives" rather than "learning objectives." Learning is something developed by and for the self - with influence from others to be sure; but it means something quite different to have a stake in saying what that learning will entail than in having someone else's dictates about what you must learn imposed upon you.
So what counts?
We can reject our society's obsession with education data and try to construct alternatives that are much less fixated on quantification. Indeed, we should. But that's a lot easier said than done. We still are faced - practically, if not philosophically - with the question that Cormier himself is frequently asked when he advocates for tossing aside rigid goals and "outcomes": "How will we measure this?"
Of course, that question demands we think about what "this" is. What can we measure? And how does the ability to measure something tend to give that thing priority? (Easy to measure: attendance, the score on a quiz where answers can be marked "right" or "wrong." Harder to measure: curiosity, critical thinking, creativity, passion.)
Even if we reject our society's maniacal focus on the quantifiable signals of schooling - that word "counts" in the phrase "what counts" probably does make us look to numbers - how do we identify what matters? And how then do we cultivate and then assess what matters in learners?
Even if we believe learners should do this for themselves, how do we help them - particularly novice learners - think through a framework to do just that? How can we design a "framework" with the least amount of restriction but paradoxically the most amount of support? How do we help learners decide "what matters" - that is, help them develop their own learning interests and goals? How do we guide them so that their goals remain theirs? How do we ensure they have the necessary resources to reach these goals without being too heavy-handed in imposing our notions of "what matters"? (And how do we support learners when and if they change their mind about "what counts"?)
from Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself":
Have you reckon'd a thousand acres much? have you reckon'd the earth much?
Have you practis'd so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems,
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books,
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.
"What counts" for you, when you think about your own personal learning? In what ways - subtle or overt - is "what counts" to you been skewed by an obsession with quantification? How can you best help students think through these questions?
According to the Harvard Business Review, 41% of women working in tech eventually end up leaving the field (compared to just 17% of men)…
What is machine learning? It sounds like a bunch of computers get together in the library on Tuesdays and study during all-nighters. It's not quite that.
Stephanie Yee and Tony Chu provide a really good visual explanation of the computer science subfield. The vertical scroller should clear up some misconceptions.
The great thing about it is that it walks you through a basic example and shows you step-by-step what's actually happening when a machine "learns." The transitions through each step keep you tied into the process.
Tags: machine learning
Following the addition of 1080 x 1080 uploads, Instagram has been putting more attention in to its Android app; according to company co-founder Mike Krieger, Instagram has additional “improvements to the image pipeline” yet to come.
Indeed, one of those improvements seems to have already made its way into the company’s Android app.
First noticed by Droid-Life, Instagram version 7.0.3 brings a quick edit feature that will save Android users a bit of time. Previously, users had to capture a picture, crop it, choose their desired filter at the bottom, and then save and add comments and tags.
Now, Android users can simply swipe left or right to select a filter. If you want to dig deeper, simply tap the edit button to change things like saturation, cropping and more.
Well then, it had to happen — the dreaded hard disk crash!
My primary MacBook Pro was purchased in December 2013. I’ve used it more or less religiously most days through 2014 and another half year has passed. It’s about 18 months old.
And the inevitable happened.
My SSD hard disk conked out yesterday.
It was fine on Sunday morning. I left it running on the desk and returned to it in the evening and — boom! — it wouldn’t boot. I went through a few processes and identified via a Repair Disk that there was a significant problem with the hard disk. It was so bad that Repair Disk didn’t work.
My only option — after a load of Googling — appeared to be to format the drive and start again, thus enabling the machine to correct the errors.
If I’d spent the entire evening messing about, I could probably have tried to fix it without losing my data.
Interestingly I was at about 490gb of my 512gb SSD. I doubt that helped. That wasn’t conscious. It just happened.
Anyway, the key issue here is that I felt rather out of sorts because it wasn’t really a problem. Normally this would be a big deal.
In years gone by it’s been a massive problem that often put me out for days in terms of productivity.
I sat and pondered the data that’s important to me and how I tend to work. Everything of any consequence is cloud-based. Some of it’s in Microsoft Office 365. Most of it’s on Google. There’s a bit on Amazon, too.
I thought about my Desktop.
Nope. Nothing of consequence on there. In years gone by that was a critical ‘area’ of the computer filled with all the latest stuff I was working on.
I thought about Downloads. No. Nothing important in there. Yeah, there was quite a large folder of data — but all downloads from the cloud that, bluntly, were only there because I had to email them to folk.
In my mind I moved into Pictures. No. Everything’s on Google Photos now (with a backup at Picturelife).
I thought about Movies. No. It’s all downloadable again from Apple or it’s on DropBox.
Passwords? In the password manager.
Bookmarks? All in Chrome.
Contacts? Email? Calendar? All in the cloud.
It felt so weird that I decided to see if I could connect to the hard disk via terminal in Recovery mode. I was able to do so. I couldn’t make any corrective actions but I was able to read my volume.
As I peered through the directories, ‘ls-ing’ as I went (Linux for ‘dir’ or ‘list files in directory’), I was struck by how much I didn’t mind.
I thought I should do something. So I plugged in a USB drive and copied the ‘Downloads’ folder over to it. Just in case. But there was nothing there I could see I actually needed. I flicked about the Desktop. Nothing. I double-checked what I felt I already knew… everything of value was in the cloud.
As Mac OS X Mavericks reinstalled on the freshly formatted drive, I browsed Amazon hunting for a backup drive for time machine. I reasoned that I should really not have this sort of thing happen again. I haven’t bothered with Apple’s Time Machine since it came out.
In the end I was thinking about buying Western Digital’s My Cloud Mirror … and well, I haven’t done so yet. I will probably do this in the fullness of time.
So here I am bashing out this blog post on the MacBook that, 12 hours ago, was a total dud.
Mavericks is all new and shiny. The whole system boots in a few seconds. It feels fresh as a daisy.
I recognise that it’s perhaps time to swap this MacBook in — or at least consider replacing the Hard Disk — as there’s no telling when the issue that occurred might happen again.
Is it time to get the new MacBook? Well, I’m seriously considering it.
In the same vein… just how much do I need a Mac? Would a Chromebook suffice? It has done so. I do like the build quality and the ‘fun’ of OS X — and I do still need a fully capable operating system that, for example, let’s me easily multitask with multiple apps.
I don’t think I’m far away from living my work life fully on something like a Chromebook. Or maybe a Microsoft Surface. Decisions, decisions.
When millennials encounter problems with products or services they typically try to solve issues on their own, but if they need customer service or technical support they want a rapid response via online chat or social media, according to a recent survey performed by Kelton Global for Salesforce’s Desk.com. These self-service, on-demand expectations are beginning... Read more »
The post Millennials skip traditional customer service for online troubleshooting appeared first on Desk.com.
Developing a long term Mozilla Learning strategy has been my big focus over the last three months. Working closely with people across our community, we’ve come up with a clear, simple goal for our work: universal web literacy. We’ve also defined ‘leadership’ and ‘advocacy’ as our two top level strategies for pursuing this goal. The use of ‘partnerships and networks’ will also be key to our efforts. These are the core elements that will make up the Mozilla Learning strategy.
Over the last month, I’ve summarized our thinking on Mozilla Learning for the Mozilla Board and a number of other internal audiences. This video is based on these presentations:
As you’ll see in the slides, our goal for Mozilla Learning is an ambitious one: make sure everyone knows how to read, write and participate on the web. In this case, everyone = the five billion people who will be online by 2025.
Our top level thinking on how to do this includes:
Concretely, we will integrate our Clubs, Hive and Fellows initiatives into a single, world class learning and leadership program.
Concretely, this means we will invest more in advocacy, thought leadership and user education. We may also design ways to encourage web literacy more aggressively in our products.
Mozilla can’t create universal web literacy on its own. All of our leadership and advocacy work will involve ‘open source’ partners with whom we’ll create a global network committed to universal web literacy.
Process-wise: we arrived at this high level strategy by looking at our existing programs and assets. We’ve been working on web literacy, leadership development and open internet advocacy for about five years now. So, we already have a lot in play. What’s needed right now is a way to focus all of our efforts in a way that will increase their impact — and that will build a real snowball of people, organizations and governments working on the web literacy agenda.
The next phase of Mozilla Learning strategy development will dig deeper on ‘how’ we will do this. I’ll provide a quick intro post on that next step in the coming days.