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20 Mar 18:35

The Gemini PDA

by Rui Carmo

I like this. Can’t quite make up my mind about whether to actually support their crowdfunding campaign (which seems to be quite popular), but the form factor is very attractive.

I just don’t know if today’s use cases for mobile computing are a good fit.

20 Mar 18:35

Data Cleaning – Finding Near Matches in Names

by Tony Hirst

In the post What Nationality Did You Say You Were, Again? I showed how we could use the fuzzyset python library to try to reconcile user supplied nationalities entered via a free text entry form to “preferred” nationalities listed in the FCO Register of Country Names.

Here’s another quick example of how to use fuzzyset to help clean a list of names, possibly repeated, that may include near misses or partial matches.

import pandas as pd
names=['S. Smith', 'John Smith','James Brown','John Brown','T. Smith','John Brown']
df=pd.DataFrame({'name':names})

# Set the thresh value (0..1) to tweak match strength
thresh=0.8

import fuzzyset
names=df['name'].tolist()

cleaner = fuzzyset.FuzzySet()
collisions=[]
for name in names:
    maybe=cleaner.get(name)
    # If there is a possible match, get a list of tuples back: (score, matchstring)
    # The following line finds the highest match score
    m=max(maybe,key=lambda item:item[0]) if maybe is not None else (-1,'')
    # If there is no match, or the max match score is below the threshold value,
    if not maybe or m[0] < thresh:         # assume that it's not a match and add name to list of "clean" names…         cleaner.add(name)     elif m[0] >= thresh:
        # But if there is a possible match, print a warning
        txt='assuming {} is a match with {} ({}) so not adding'.format(name,m[1],m[0])
        print(txt)
        # and add the name to a collisions list
        collisions.append((name,m))

#Now generate a simple report
print('------\n\n# Cleaning Report:\n\n## Match Set:\n{}\n\n------\n\n## Collisions:\n{}'.format(cleaner.exact_set, collisions))

The report looks something like this:

Sometimes, you may want to be alerted to exact matches; for example, if you are expecting the values to all be unique.

However, at other times, you may be happy to ignore duplicates, in which case you might consider dropping them from the names list. One way to do this is to convert the names list to a set, and back again, names=list(set(names)), although this changes the list order.

Alternatively, from the pandas dataframe column, just take unique values: names=df['name'].unique().tolist().

You may also want to know how many times duplicate (exact matches) occur. In such a case, we can list items that appear at list twice in the names list using the pandas dataframe value_counts() method:

#Get a count of the number of times each value occurs in a column, along with the value
vals=df['name'].value_counts()
#Select items where the value count is greater than one
vals[vals > 1]
#John Brown    2

PS Another way of detecting, and correcting, near matches is to use an application such as OpenRefine, in particular its clustering tool:


20 Mar 18:34

Twitter Favorites: [chenoehart] Will start compiling GIFs which make specific architectural references now that I've found one - capsule tower from… https://t.co/K4BLW3ZHKl

Chenoe Hart @chenoehart
Will start compiling GIFs which make specific architectural references now that I've found one - capsule tower from… twitter.com/i/web/status/8…
20 Mar 18:34

Netflix releases its 2017 smart TV recommendations

by Rose Behar

While Netflix has never launched its own display hardware into the market, the company has been in the business of critiquing other brands’ smart TVs since 2015, when the company launched its Netflix Recommended TV program at CES.

On a press trip held at the company’s Los Gatos, California headquarters, Netflix toured journalists around an entire office floor packed with displays as far as the eye could see, cluttering every corner and unused cubicle. The TV storage surrounds a lab dedicated to its smart TV analysis, where TVs of the highest quality (and price) descend in layers on the wall, displaying some of the company’s 2017 selections: 2017 LG 4K UHD TVs with WebOS 3.5, 2017 Sony Android TVs and 2017 Samsung 7, 8, 9 and Q-series Smart TVs.

Other TVs may be added throughout the year, but all must achieve a majority of the rigorous criteria, including the ability to power on the TV and start using Netflix in a few seconds, the ability to switch between apps and live TV without noticeable lag and a hi-resolution display of the Netflix interface (a new addition this year).

As in past years, decisions are also based on whether Netflix is easily accessible from wherever the user is within their TV menu, the inclusion of a Netflix button on its remote and verification of whether the TV comes with the latest version of Netflix.

netflix recommended tvs presentation

In 2016, LG’s 2016 4K UHD TVs with webOS 3.0, Samsung’s 2016 4K SUHD TVs and all 2016 Sony Android TV models made the cut.

In a briefing with the press, Netflix’s global head of business development Bill Holmes, reiterated Netflix’s disinterest in pursuing hardware.

“We had companies approach us and say ‘Why don’t we build you a Netflix TV?’ and we said ‘Why would anyone ever want to buy that?’” said Holmes, stating that he didn’t see a purpose in such a device.

That line of thought did result in the genesis of Netflix Recommended TVs, however, which achieves the dual-purpose of providing guidance to super fans and the TV industry at large, without necessitating a move into hardware.

“We’ve been able to do that in a way that’s more democratic and that everyone can participate,” said Holmes, “rather than going into competition and having a Netflix TV and trying to sell that and be more successful. I think not only is that not strategic, but we’d probably be terrible at it.”

The post Netflix releases its 2017 smart TV recommendations appeared first on MobileSyrup.

20 Mar 07:43

USA: Krise im Bildungssystem - Der Kampf der Schulen

mkalus shared this story from SPIEGEL ONLINE - Schlagzeilen.

Wenn die Kinder der Mason School im Osten Detroits sehen wollen, wie es ihrer Schule bald gehen könnte, müssen sie nur ein paar Schritte über den Parkplatz gehen. Neben dem flachen Bau ihrer Grund- und Mittelschule steht ein prächtiges altes Gebäude, ein paar Stufen führen hoch zu einer weinroten Tür. "Public School" steht über dem Eingang. Seit fünf Jahren ist kein Schüler mehr hindurchgegangen.

Das einst schöne Schulgebäude verfällt. In den großen Fenstern sind Scheiben zerbrochen, Gestrüpp wuchert über die Wege. In wenigen Monaten könnte auch das Gebäude der Mason Grund- und Mittelschule verlassen sein. Der US-Bundesstaat Michigan droht insgesamt 38 öffentlichen Schulen mit Schließung - 24 davon allein in Detroit - weil sie in Leistungstests drei Jahre in Folge schlecht abgeschnitten haben. Mason ist eine von ihnen.

Lehrer Donavon Gardener

SPIEGEL ONLINE

Lehrer Donavon Gardener

Nur die Schulen, die ihr Niveau deutlich steigern, bekommen vielleicht noch einmal eine Chance: "Wir wollen sehen, ob die Schulen das Zeug haben, sich zu verbessern", erklärt Natasha Baker, die in Michigan für Schulreform zuständig ist.

Überall in den USA kritisieren die großen Lehrergewerkschaften heruntergekommene Gebäude, Geld- und Lehrermangel, miserable Leistungen der Schüler und Schulschließungen. Das US-Schulsystem steckt in einer tiefen Krise. Und am Heimatstaat der neuen Bildungsministerin Betsy DeVos lässt sich jetzt schon absehen, was wohl auf das ganze Land zukommt: Ein echter Überlebenskampf.

Donavon Gardner führt ihn seit elf Jahren. Er unterrichtet an der Mason in Detroit, ist Sprecher der Lehrerschaft. Er hat selbst zwei Söhne. Auf dem Weg zur Arbeit setzt er sie an einer anderen Public School ab. Dann fährt er zwanzig Minuten in den Osten der Stadt, vorbei an verlassenen und einstürzenden Holzhäusern. "Gerade hier sollte Schule ein sicherer Ort sein", sagt er. Wenn die Kinder Zuhause schon kein fließendes Wasser hätten, dann doch wenigstens in der Schule. "Stattdessen muss ich sie immer daran erinnern, das Wasser so lange laufen zu lassen, bis es nicht mehr trüb ist und auch dann sollten sie es eigentlich lieber nicht trinken."

Gardener bringt so schnell nichts aus der Ruhe. Aber wenn er die Zustände an seiner Schule beschreibt, wirkt er sehr besorgt. Oft säßen mehr als 30 oder 35 Kinder in einer Klasse, Kunst, Musik oder Sport fallen aus, weil es keine Lehrer dafür gibt. Seit Anfang des Schuljahres wartet er darauf, dass ihm ein Computerprogramm für den Unterricht bewilligt wird. "Es kostet nur 200 Dollar, aber dafür fehlt das Geld", sagt Gardner. Um arbeiten zu können, bezahlt er Materialien immer wieder aus der eigenen Tasche.

Bildung wird privatisiert

Die Milliardärin und neue Bildungsministerin DeVos engagiert sich seit Jahrzehnten in Michigans Bildungssektor. Die Schließungen dort sind das Ergebnis einer Schulpolitik, die sie entscheidend mitgeprägt hat: Seit Anfang der Neunzigerjahre unterstützt sie die "School Choice"-Bewegung, die sich dafür einsetzt, dass Schüler selbst entscheiden können, wo und wie sie unterrichtet werden - an einer öffentlichen oder einer privaten Schule, in der Nachbarschaft oder weit weg.

Donald Trump und Betsy DeVos

REUTERS

Donald Trump und Betsy DeVos

Die Bewegung unterstützt zudem sogenannte Charter Schools: Sie sind öffentlich, werden aber in der Regel von Unternehmen oder Privatleuten betrieben. Inzwischen gibt es sie fast überall in den USA, besonders viele in Michigan.

Im Gegensatz zu den Public Schools sind sie von den meisten staatlichen Regulierungen befreit - es gibt weniger Vorschriften darüber, was und wie im Unterricht behandelt wird oder wer überhaupt unterrichten darf. Befürworter argumentieren, dass so auch neue, experimentelle Unterrichtsformen möglich sind und die Bedürfnisse der Kinder besser erfüllt werden.

DeVos liebt Charter Schools und vor allem die freie Schulwahl. Und sie konnte US-Präsident Donald Trump überzeugen: Im ersten Haushaltsentwurf spendiert er dem Programm 1,4 Milliarden Dollar mehr. Zur Gegenfinanzierung streicht er einer Initiative für Nachmittagsangebote und Sommercamps fast die gleiche Summe.

Konkurrenzkampf ums Geld

Für Schulen wie Mason eine Katastrophe: Wie viele andere Public Schools kämpft sie mit Geldsorgen. Und mit jedem Kind, das an eine Charter School oder Privatschule wechselt, schrumpft das Budget. Denn in den USA werden Schulen über die Zahl ihrer Schüler finanziert. In einer Stadt wie Detroit, die wegen der schweren Finanzkrise Zehntausende Familien verlassen haben, verschärft der Wettbewerb die Situation weiter.

An allen US-Schulen finden im Oktober und im Februar sogenannte Zähltage statt - für jeden dann angemeldeten Schüler überweist der Staat einen bestimmten Betrag. Die Höhe hängt davon ab, wie gut die jeweilige Stadt oder Gemeinde finanziell dasteht: In New York gibt es pro Schüler im Schnitt mehr als 18.000 Dollar, in Idaho nur rund 5800. Michigan liegt mit knapp 10.000 Dollar im Mittelfeld. Allerdings weicht der Betrag je nach Stadt nach oben oder unten ab. Laut US-Bildungsministerium beträgt der Unterschied zwischen Schulen in armen und reichen Bezirken im Schnitt 15,6 Prozent.

Haus in der Nachbarschaft der Mason Schule

SPIEGEL ONLINE

Haus in der Nachbarschaft der Mason Schule

Aus Sicht von Lehrer Gardener geht es Betreibern von Charter Schools häufig nur um dieses Geld: "Sie gucken die Kinder an und sehen Dollarzeichen", schimpft er. Tatsächlich ist der Anteil der Charter Schools, die profitorientiert arbeiten, in Michigan mit 80 Prozent sehr hoch. Die Schule wird zum Unternehmen - alles, was nicht für die Schüler ausgegeben wird, steckt sich der Betreiber als Gewinn in die Tasche. Um die Ausgaben zu senken, stellen diese Schulen zum Beispiel billige Lehrkräfte ohne Zertifikat ein, erklärt Terrence Martin von der Detroit Federation of Teachers, einer Gewerkschaft für Lehrer. Am Ende dieser Entwicklung könnte die Bildung in den USA weitestgehend in der Hand von Unternehmen liegen.

Boom der Charter Schools

Tatsächlich hat sich die Schullandschaft in Detroit drastisch verändert, seitdem das im Nordosten der USA gelegene Michigan 1993 Charter Schools erlaubte. Im gesamten Bundesstaat wurden solche Schulen gegründet, doch Detroit erlebte einen regelrechten Boom: Im Jahr 2000 gab es bereits 46 Charter Schools, 15 Jahre später hat sich die Zahl mehr als verdoppelt. Die einzige Stadt in den gesamten USA mit mehr Schulen dieses Typs ist New Orleans.

Gleichzeitig schlossen von den 288 Public Schools, die es im Schuljahr 2000/2001 in Detroit noch gab, 195. Von den 100.000 Schülern, die auf die öffentlichen Schulen der Stadt gehen, besuchen heute weniger als die Hälfte eine Public School.

Kein Geld, keine Alternativen

Eines dieser Kinder ist Shoniqua Kemps jüngste Tochter Imami. Die 15-Jährige besucht die Osborn High School. Wie Mason und viele andere von der Schließung bedrohten Schulen liegt sie im armen Osten der Stadt. "Die meisten Menschen hören nur Schlechtes über die Schulen hier, und natürlich gibt es aufs und abs", sagt Kemp. "Aber die Schule ist für meine Tochter auch ein Stück Zuhause, sie kennt die Nachbarschaft, sie kennt die anderen Kinder - das ist viel wert."

Kemp beschwert sich nicht gerne, sucht lieber nach Lösungen. Sie geht zu Schulsitzungen, engagiert sich für einen sicheren Schulweg. Aber jetzt? "Ich weiß nicht, was aus meiner Tochter wird, wenn ihre Schule wirklich schließt", sagt sie.

Shoniqua Kemp

SPIEGEL ONLINE

Shoniqua Kemp

Auf dem Papier kann sich Familie Kemp für jede andere öffentliche Schule entscheiden - möglichst eine bessere. In Detroit gar nicht so leicht: 92 Public Schools aus Detroit - also fast alle - gehören zu den schlechtesten 25 Prozent im ganzen Staat. "Alle anderen Schulen in der Umgebung stehen auch auf der Liste", sagt Mutter Kemp. Um überhaupt eine der besseren Schulen zu erreichen, müsste sie ihre Tochter morgens meilenweit fahren.

Und die von Bildungsministerin DeVos angepriesene Alternative ist für sie keine: Es gibt keine Charter School in ihrer Nähe. Hinzu kommt, dass die Charter Schools nicht besser abschneiden als die Public Schools: Bei den Mathe- und Lesekompetenzen der Kinder gibt es kaum Unterschiede.

"Wir brauchen mehr Geld für bessere Bildung"

Wer es sich leisten kann, zieht deshalb aus dem Stadtzentrum Detroits in die wohlhabenden Vorstädte. Andere melden zumindest ihre Kinder dort auf den Schulen an und nehmen lange Wege in Kauf. Einige Eltern aus dem Osten der Stadt bringen ihre Kinder auch jenseits der "Eight Mile Road" in die Schule, jener berühmten Grenze zu den Vierteln der reicheren Mittel- und Oberschicht.

Kemp hat nicht das Gefühl, dass sie dort willkommen ist. Sie braucht eine Schule in der Nachbarschaft. An einem kalten Februartag steht sie deshalb vor dem Fisher Building in Detroit und demonstriert mit Hunderten anderen gegen die Schulschließungen. "Rettet unsere Kinder, rettet unsere Schulen", rufen sie auf dem Gehweg. Oben im Turm des Gebäudes sitzen die Verantwortlichen für die Detroit Public Schools.

"Zurück in die Segregation"

"Wir haben hier einen Vorgeschmack auf Betsy DeVos' Politik bekommen, es ist ein Kampf ums Überleben", sagt Lehrer Gardner. All die Schulschließungen der vergangenen Jahre hätten nicht dazu geführt, dass sich das Bildungsniveau in der Stadt verbessert habe. "Das führt uns zurück in die Segregation: Wer es sich leisten kann, schickt seine Kinder auf die besseren Schulen und alle andere, die Armen, Schwarzen gehen auf die letzten, schlechten öffentlichen Schulen", sagt Gardner. "Das ist doch keine Auswahl."

20 Mar 07:43

Misinformation May Be the Disease, But Curiosity Is the Cure

by mikecaulfield

Tim Harford, whose work I have followed since I first got into media and statistical literacy a decade ago, has one of the best pieces yet on our post-truth moment. As we’ve often done in these pages, he traces the roots of our current crisis not to the 2016 election but to the realization in the 1950s by Big Tobacco that that they could manufacture doubt at a fraction of the cost of adapting to truth. He goes through the well-known problems with attacking doubt and misinformation with facts, and comes to where we’ve landed with the Digital Polarization Project (sort of).

One of our big focuses for the Digital Polarization Project has been to try to engage the curiosity of students — to get them to think like reporters rather than attorneys, as encyclopedists rather than activists. Turn off the rhetoric for a while and just delight in finding new things out.

Tim comes at that from a bit of a different angle, essentially asking (as he has been asking for a while) where the Carl Sagan of sociology and public policy is — the person who can engage people in science and social science for the joy of exploration and learning rather than more immediate argumentative needs. But I think his conclusion plugs into things much bigger than that:

What Kahan and his colleagues found, to their surprise, was that while politically motivated reasoning trumps scientific knowledge, “politically motivated reasoning . . . appears to be negated by science curiosity”. Scientifically literate people, remember, were more likely to be polarised in their answers to politically charged scientific questions. But scientifically curious people were not. Curiosity brought people together in a way that mere facts did not. The researchers muse that curious people have an extra reason to seek out the facts: “To experience the pleasure of contemplating surprising insights into how the world works.”

I’ve talked much about the nature of wiki, and particularly the idea that your job is to summarize the consensus of a community of experts. You’re not writing for yourself in wiki: you’re writing to represent others.

People often find this difficult at first. They want to win arguments.

But here’s what happens when people get into the “wiki zone” of production: it changes you.

Let me give you an example from this morning. I was writing a piece on DigiPo on a claim that Fukushima had increased thyroid cancer in the surrounding area by several thousand percent. I went into it pretty inclined to disbelieve it, and in the end it did turn out to be false: there’s no good evidence that thyroid cancer in the surrounding area has increased at all. It’s early, and evidence might develop over time — but right now the answer is nope.

In the middle of doing research on it, however, I found an article in a journal that appeared to show otherwise. While not arguing for a 2,000% increase in prevalence, it did argue for substantial increases. And it was from Epidemiology, a journal of high stature.

Now you might expect me to kick against that evidence immediately since it disproves my personal gut on the evidence, and blows apart the piece I had been writing. But when you get deep into the wiki zone, that’s not how it feels. When I came across the article, I was delighted, because it added complexity to the article I was working on. It was surprising. It would allow my wiki article to tell a more interesting story, even if it undermined what I had thought up to now.

I was actually  bit depressed when after a bit of research I found that the article had been roundly criticized as methodologically flawed by the world’s biggest experts in the epidemiology of radiation exposure. (Epidemology itself published seven letters in a later journal that tore apart the study and its conclusions).

But this is what wiki does, as opposed to blogging. It puts you in a learning mode vs. an argumentative mode. You can feel it when it happens, physically, when it lets down the rhetorical defenses you’ve set up. Ward used to call it Egoless Wiki. When people let down defenses enough to get there, to delight in the investigation more than the result, that’s when you’re in the zone. And I think it correlates with Tim’s point — that to have truth win we can’t fight for truth — we have to fight for curiosity and a bit of egolessness. We have to ask people not to argue their point, but to tell us what they know. In the end that’s the only thing that that’s going to save us.

Go read Tim’s piece though, it’s a brilliant summary of where we are and how we got here.

 


20 Mar 07:42

Switching Online Community Platforms

by Richard Millington

Replacing your community platform with another might replace your current set of problems with another.

Switching platforms is not a silver bullet to increasing engagement or the end of your technology challenges.

This doesn’t mean it doesn’t help. Some of our clients have seen great success switching platforms. But it’s a calculated risk. You need to know the risks and how to navigate them.

Consider:

  • Members will be upset for 1 to 3 months. They will express this publicly. Prepare both your community and your team to ride this out. Watch what people are doing not what they are saying.
  • Visiting and participation habits will be disrupted. The greater the change, the bigger the disruption. The metrics you’re measured by might drop significantly. Don’t panic. Ignore the sudden spikes or dips immediately after the launch. Wait and see the trends after a few weeks.
  • Your search traffic might decline. Any structural change will affect search rankings of hundreds (or thousands) of content items. This can become a sharp decrease in new visitors to the community. Speak to a technical SEO consultant before you’ve made the shift. New platforms can easily create a lot of thin content.
  • New technology challenges will arise. You might solve one set of challenges to be replaced by many others. Be informed about the likely challenges. Read reviews of Lithium, Jive, Salesforce, Telligent, HigherLogic, and Vanilla etc… to learn what these problems might be. They won’t come up on sales calls.
  • The implementation will take longer and cost more than you anticipate. Prepare for the implementation to take far longer than you expected and for additional costs to arise to fix new bugs. Add a 15% contingency budget. Even the more detailed of plans need revision once they’re live.

Switching platforms often makes sense, just don’t underestimate the total cost of doing it.

p.s. Remember this week to submit your reviews to our online community comparison tool.
p.p.s. Happy to help.

20 Mar 03:27

Recommended on Medium: Three Pre-Blockchain Planetary Networks: Visa, DNS, and Sabre/Amadeus

“Blockchain technology could change the world!” But how? If an industry gets a single shared source of truth, what happens? If you’re in the blockchain space, you may be working hard to paint a possible picture to answer that. You may be using logic and extrapolation, but wishing that you had something more tangible.

Here, I give you a new tool: three tangible examples of how a common substrate can change the planet. They are Visa, the DNS, and Sabre/Amadeus. Each is a precursor network or database that has already impacted the planet in positive ways. Each has been running for more than two decades. Each has some negative aspects too; but overall it was a positive gain.

We use these examples frequently, as we design governance for the public database IPDB, and help others contemplate governance & business models in BigchainDB-powered networks.

Image: Justinc License: CC-BY-SA

Let’s explore each of these examples in turn.

Visa

Did you know that Visa is mostly decentralized? I had no idea until I read this book, written by Visa’s founder Dee Hock. (Thanks Vinay Gupta for the recommendation!)

Image credit: amazon.com

Dee managed to get bitter enemies — certain financial institutions — to work together to form the first credit-card style payments network. This was unprecedented at the time for credit cards, which had the air of junk bonds and ripoffs.

Visa started small, but built on its success and expanded to more countries and with more services.

The book has airy wording. At first I found this a bit off-putting. But, as I read further, I realized that this was part of Dee’s view of the world, which informed his leadership style. And it was his leadership over decades that made Visa possible.

Dee invented the word “chaordic organization” as an organization that balances chaos (unpredictability in his view; not the scientist definition) and order. Today we might use “decentralized organization [with governance]” and mean basically the same thing.

Thanks to Visa, we’ve had a global payments network for decades. It’s not perfect, but it’s still incredible.

DNS

The next example is the Domain Name System (DNS) which maps domain names (like amazon.com) to IP addresses (like 123.456.789).

DNS has pseudo-decentralized governance, via ICANN and the registrars. It’s not perfect, but you have to give it credit — it’s a fundamental piece of internet infrastructure that billions rely on daily to use the Web.

The DNS started as a text file maintained by internet pioneer Jon Postel. Every time someone wanted a new address, they’d email Jon, and he’d update the text file! As the Web exploded in the 90s, Network Solutions took over, and with CTO David Holtzman scaled the tech to handle the growth.

Fighting over pipes. Image: Clarence McCloud. License: CC-BY-SA

The DNS was also the centerpiece of political battles in the 90s and early 2000s, where power & privacy were at stake. Fortunately, the public won (less power, more privacy). Hats off to David, Jim Rutt, Esther Dyson, Pindar Wong and others involved.

Sabre & Amadeus

Sabre & Amadeus are two databases that, together, form the common substrate for the travel industry. They’re the databases that hold bookings for flights and hotels.

Hotels, planes, and … plane hotels! Image: Manuel Antonio, License CC0

Thanks to them, we have tremendous innovation at the higher levels. As an example, consider all the different user experiences for discovering & booking a flight or hotel, for not only consumer (Expedia vs Hipmunk vs Kayak vs Trivago) but also travel agencies and airlines themselves.

These two databases happen to be centralized systems. That happened because when they were formed few people realized the value of the database. Now they’re worth more than most airlines combined.

Anti-Pattern: GRD

A famous anti-pattern is the Global Repertoire Database (GRD), an effort in the music space to better compensate creators and rights holders. It failed in 2014 largely because significant players pulled out before it got widely adopted. The main issue was: who would control the database? (And decentralized databases weren’t in the toolbox at the time.)

This anti-pattern might just lead to another positive example. The Open Music Initiative (OMI) was recently created to tackle similar issues, but with the winds of blockchain at its back. It has momentum. I’m hopeful!

Conclusion

New industry consortiums forming around blockchain technology, take heart. Others have done it before you, successfully. These examples are your ammunition, as well as templates for success. Decentralized technology makes it easier, as both a technology tool and a political tool. Consortium databases, here we come!


Three Pre-Blockchain Planetary Networks: Visa, DNS, and Sabre/Amadeus was originally published in The BigchainDB Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

19 Mar 03:00

Straight lines are so yesterday with Squigglish [App of the week]

by Jessica Vomiero

At first glance, it might seem like the app Squigglish simply animates static images by adding motion to otherwise straight lines.

While it might seem like your images are dancing in place after putting them through the Squigglish treatment, in reality, they’re employing an animation effect called squigglevision.

Squigglish Screenshot

Squigglevision involves drawing the same image several times and looping the drawings together to create movement. Squigglish is an app that makes this effect achievable for anyone, and was developed by mathematician Olivia Walch.

This app is perfect for the casual doodler, who wants to add some wiggle to their drawings. Not only can users save their doodles as GIFs to their devices, but they can take pictures of the world around them and draw over them to create animated versions of their surroundings.

All in all however, Squigglish is a great way to pass the time, and a way to add some wiggle to your everyday life.

Download Squigglish for free on the App Store and an Android version is coming shortly.

The post Straight lines are so yesterday with Squigglish [App of the week] appeared first on MobileSyrup.

19 Mar 03:00

Port 22 Anecdotes

by Martin

Recently my firewall at home had a bit of a hick-up and decided to change the rule to forward a high external TCP port number to port 22 of one of my servers into a 1:1 mapping of that port instead. As I was about to go into a long meeting I couldn’t immediately react and fix things so for a couple of hours the SSH server of that machine was accessible from the Internet via its native port – with interesting results.

I was not particularly worried to leave things this way for a couple of hours as I’ve deactivated username/password authentication on that server and the patch level of the machine was up to date. I expected a couple of robots to try getting access but not much more. When I checked my logs after a couple of hours I was however quite surprised at the frequency I was attacked by bots. While there were periods of 30 minutes or so without any activities there are also instances where I got a visitor every 2 or 3 minutes from everywhere around the world and I had one bot that tried to do password authentication every second for a couple of minutes before it gave up after several hundred attempts.

First thought: This sets press reports by companies and governments into perspective that they get attacked many times per hour. That is nothing special, everybody with a public IP address gets constantly bombarded by connection attempts from robots that try to find weaknesses.

Second reaction: Don’t even bother connecting low power IoT devices with a public IPv4 address to the Internet, it will never have an opportunity to go to sleep and its small battery will be empty before the day is out. Even only having a public IPv6 address that is reachable for initiating incoming traffic won’t help as people are working on methods to scan that infinitely bigger address space as well.

19 Mar 03:00

Prometheus vs InfluxDB

We just finished migrating all of our monitoring from InfluxDB to Prometheus and I thought I'd write up our reasons for the change. Please note that these are my own personal observations and relate to a specific project, these issue may not apply to you and you should evaluate each product for your own uses.

Update: To clarify, the versions of InfluxDB and Prometheus that I am talking about are InfluxDB 1.1.1 and Prometheus 1.5.2.

Push vs Pull

InfluxDB
InfluxDB is a push based system, i.e. your running application needs to actively push data into the monitoring system.
Prometheus
Prometheus is a pull based system, the Prometheus server fetches the metrics values from the running application periodically.

With centralized control of how polling is done with Prometheus I can switch from polling every minute to every 10 seconds just by adjusting the configuration of the Prometheus server. With InfluxDB I would have to redeploy every application with a change to how often they should push metrics. In addition the Prometheus pull method allows Prometheus to create and offer a synthetic "UP" metric that monitors whether an application is up and running. For short lived applications Prometheus has a push gateway.

Datastore

InfluxDB
InfluxDB has a monolithic database for both metric values and indices.
Prometheus
Prometheus uses LevelDB for indices, but each metric is stored in its own file.

Both use key/value datastores, but how they use them is very different and it affects the performance of the products. InfluxDB was slower and took up substantially more disk space than Prometheus for the same exact set of metics. Just starting up InfluxDB and sending a small number of metrics to it caused the datastore to grow to 1GB, and then grow rapidly from there to 100's of GB for our full set of metrics, while Prometheus has yet to crack 10GB with all of our metrics. And let's not even go into the number of times InfluxDB lost all of our data, either from a crash or from a failed attempt to upgrade the version of InfluxDB that we were running.

Update: I was also reminded there's another datastore related issue with startup time, while Prometheus starts in a matter of seconds, InfluxDB would regularly take 5 minutes to restart while it either validated or rebuilt its indices and would not collect data during the entire process.

CPU

Probably closely related to the datastore efficiency, InfluxDB was coming close to maxing out the server it was running on, while Prometheus running on an identical instance peaks at maybe 0.2 load.

Query Language

InfluxDB
InfluxDB uses a variant of SQL.
Prometheus
Uses a substantially simpler and more direct querying model.

What would you rather type?

    SELECT * FROM "cpu_load_short" WHERE "value" > 0.9
  

or

    cpu_load_short > 0.9
  

Configuration

InfluxDB
Configuration is done through a mix of config files and SQL commands sent to the server.
Prometheus
Text files.

Prometheus config is simply YAML files, and the entire config is done via files. With InfluxDB you have to worry that some of the config, for example, creating the named database that metrics are to be stored in, actually gets done. Additionally Prometheus just picks more reasonable defaults, for example, it defaults to only storing data for 15 days, while InfluxDB defaults to storing all data forever, and if you don't want to store all data forever you need to construct an SQL command to send to the server to control how data is retained.

19 Mar 03:00

Rebuilding a national university after decades of war

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Ramadhan Rajab, University World News, Mar 21, 2017


For more than a decade Somalia was a lesson in how a country functions without a government. In a word: poorly. I take it as the definitive refutation of libertarianism. Now that it is emerging from years of violence and chaos control of the  Somali National University is being handed over to the nascent government and facing challenges in everything from finding staff to enrolling qualified students. SNU has free tuition, but a sign of the recent lawlessness is the proliferation of private 'universities' who "cash in on the thirst for education.... Unless regulations are in place it will be hard to deal with this problem. If not checked, we will have too many graduates with no relevant skills."

[Link] [Comment]
19 Mar 03:00

Prairie Spring

Most places know four seasons, but for the most intense experience of spring you really come Up North. I’m in Saskatchewan visiting my Mom, went for a short walk in the park behind her house, and came back with pictures of the experience.

Most obviously, the snow is retreating.

Prairie spring - retreating snow

With the melting and freezing of early spring, some of the snow is now crumbly puddled ice, which is melting in the cold March sun, and faster given an excuse.

Leaf melts spring ice in the prairie spring

An excuse for a little Physics Moment with my ten-year-old: “Hey girl, why did the ice melt over the leaf?”

But that ice is being attacked from below as above; see the blades of grass straining away? Some green is already showing.

Prairie ice melting in spring

That ice, it’s a treat for the eye as it melts.

Melting snow on the prairies in spring

Having said that, it’s still not much above 0°C and there’s a brisk wind. But at 50.45° N, the oncoming spring is not to be denied.

19 Mar 02:59

Artificial Intelligence and Law : 
A Six Part Primer

files/images/forecasting.PNG


Daniel Martin Katz, Computational Legal Studies, Mar 21, 2017


The 271 slides in this presentation might make you balk, but there are blank slides, and the rest of them move along at a brisk pace. It's a great introduction to the use of AI in law, and you will learn quite a bit AI itself in the process. It describes the impact of rules-based systems in law (50 slides or so) and then shifts to data-driven AI, which is the predominate method used today. This approach does not resonate with lawyers; "there is a borderline pathological numerophobia among lawyers, says slide 87. Despite that "quantitative legal prediction" is coming to law. Where is it doing? Machine Learning as a Service (MLaaS). Enterprise open source. The future is in how to assemble these systems for specific applications. Great presentation. Don't miss this.

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19 Mar 02:59

nevver: The New Yorker

19 Mar 02:59

Hidden Figures, Douglas Engelbart Edition

by Eugene Wallingford

At one point in this SOHP interview, Douglas Engelbart describes his work at the Ames Research Center after graduating from college. He was an electrical engineer, building and maintaining wind tunnels, paging systems, and other special electronics. Looking to make a connection between this job and his future work, the interviewer asked, "Did they have big computers running the various operations?" Engelbart said:

I'll tell you what a computer was in those days. It was an underpaid woman sitting there with a hand calculator, and they'd have rooms full of them, that's how they got their computing done. So you'd say, "What's your job?" "I'm a computer."

Later in the interview, Engelbart talks about how his experience working with radar in the Navy contributed to his idea for a symbol-manipulating system that could help people deal with complexity and urgency. He viewed the numeric calculations done by the human computers at Ames as being something different. Still, I wonder how much this model of parallel computing contributed to his ideas, if only implcitly.

19 Mar 02:59

Nintendo’s Super Mario Run Launching on Android on March 23

by Rajesh Pandey
Nintendo today confirmed that it will be releasing Super Mario Run for Android on the Google Play Store on March 23. The game first made its debut on iOS in December last year amidst heavy marketing push from Apple. Continue reading →
19 Mar 02:59

reviewinhaiku:Moonlight



reviewinhaiku:

Moonlight

19 Mar 02:59

Weeknote 11/2017

by Doug Belshaw

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m working from home Monday-Thursday, then heading up some mountains on Friday/Saturday.


I make my living helping people and organisations become more productive in their use of technology.  If you’ve got something that you think I might be able to help with, please do get in touch! Email: hello@nulldynamicskillset.com

19 Mar 02:59

Unpaywall

files/images/screenshou.png


Heather Piwowar, Impactstory, Mar 21, 2017


Are you or your students trying to get work done but get stuck at a paywall? I know it happens to me often enough. That's why some developers have created Unpaywall - it points you to open access versions of the paper the publisher is trying to charge you money for. Now I can't vouch for how well it works - the Firefox extension is still in the review process. But I like the idea a lot. As Heather Piwowar writes, "We want everyone in the world to have a 'read it free button next to the “ pay us money” button on research articles, powered by open access in repositories worldwide."

[Link] [Comment]
19 Mar 02:58

Do Repeat Yourself, With Variations

by Jon Udell

Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) is a touchstone principle of software development. It’s often understood to inveigh against duplication of code. Copying a half-dozen lines from one program to another is a bad idea, DRY says, because if you change your mind about how that code works, you’ll have to revise it in several places. Better to convert those lines of code into a function that you write once and reuse.

More broadly, the DRY principle asserts:

Every piece of knowledge must have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system.

Code and data are two kinds of knowledge that ought to be represented canonically, and repeated — if at all — only by mechanical derivation, never by variation.

I often violate the DRY principle by indulging in CopyAndPasteProgramming. In my defense I point to another principle, CodeHarvesting, which defends duplication as a necessary stepping stone.

Letting a duplication of logic live for now, in order to see how to best universalize it at some later point.

For me, at least, that’s what tends to work best. A common theme doesn’t emerge until I’ve seen — and ideally others have seen and reacted to — several variations on that theme. This kind of duplication — deferred universalization — is beneficial, right?

Here’s another kind. In the JavaScript world the dominant engine of reuse is the Node Package Manager (NPM). When I first started using it a few years ago, I was shocked at the amount of duplication it entails. When you install an NPM package, the modules it depends on are copied into a subdirectory. If those modules depend on others, they are copied into yet deeper subdirectories. For even a simple JavaScript program you can end up with a forest of thousands of files.

A similar thing happens in the Python world. It’s a best practice, nowadays, to use a tool called virtualenv to create, for each Python program you run, an isolated environment with the particular Python interpreter and set of modules needed by that particular program. In practice that means, again, copying lots of files.

Arguably these duplications don’t violate DRY because they are mechanical copies that won’t vary from their originals. But they can! And here too I am prone to indulge in local variation to explore possibilities that might or might not warrant generalization.

While pondering the vices and virtues of duplicative software construction I reread Metamagical Themas, the compendium of Douglas Hofstadter’s columns in Scientific American. (The title is an anagram of Mathematical Games, the column he inherited from Margin Gardner.) In Variations on a Theme as the Crux of Creativity he states the case as plainly as anywhere. At the core of creative thought are “slippery” concepts that we develop in a virtuous cycle of innovation:

Once you have decided to try out a new way of viewing a phenomenon, you can let that view suggest a set of knobs to vary. The act of varying them will lead you down new pathways, generating new images ripe for perception in their own right.

This sets up a closed loop:

– fresh situations get unconsciously framed in terms of familiar concept;

– those familiar concepts come equipped with standard knobs to twiddle;

– twiddling those knobs carries you into fresh new conceptual territory.

We need to get DRY eventually in order to maintain stable systems. But the countervailing state needn’t be WET (“write everything twice”, “we enjoy typing” or “waste everyone’s time”). Instead I propose DRYWV: Do Repeat Yourself, With Variations.

Every piece of knowledge should have a single, unambiguous, authoritative representation within a system. But how do we arrive at such knowledge? I think we have to DRYWV our way there.


19 Mar 02:58

HBMM

by Zee Jenkins
HBMM

Mondays on Flickr are a beautiful time. Explore fills with wonderfully close-up images centered around changing weekly themes. Users are always surprised by the seemingly random photos of eggs, or pens, or buttons. Every week is different, meaning every Monday has new macro photos to explore thanks to the Macro Monday group.

Macro Monday, one of the most engaging groups on Flickr, turns 10 this week. With almost 11k members and 120k photos, the group boasts an impressive number of Explored photos each week. Images in this group focus on beautiful, subtle details 3” and smaller.

Macro Monday group members have also popularized the tag HMM (Happy Macro Monday) which trends every single week, along with their weekly theme.

Instead of singing Happy Birthday, we’re saying HBMM to this wonderful FlickrFam. We invite you to join the Macro Monday group and submit an image for this week’s theme: ‘HAPPY 10 YEARS!’ Simply take a birthday themed macro photo, add it to the group and add the tag ‘HAPPY10YEARS!’

The Macro Monday group opens for submissions at 0-GMT and only accepts macro photography that fits the weekly theme.

Original photo by artsychameleon | fotografi
.

 

Macro Mondays photo challenge: "made of metal"
Let there be Light & Life
Symmetrical Repeats
Carry That Weight - The Beatles.. (E x p l o r e d)

 


19 Mar 02:58

You Are Not the Hero of This Story

by mikecaulfield

I’m a huge fan of peer-to-peer sharing systems. The whole idea of federated content takes much of its inspiration from platforms like BitTorrent, and I’ve repeatedly argued here that the future belongs to platforms that look more like IPFS than Dropbox. (In fact, if you read this blog, this was probably where you first heard about IPFS). Federated wiki was, of course, the ultimate peer-to-peer OER machine, and I even went so far last year to argue that torrented OER might be breaking into the mainstream.

I believe in the torrent model (over the URL model) so deeply that I’ve said that rediscovering name-based networking is key to the personal web, and that servers and URLs as the model are holding us back.

So I’m actually delighted that LBRY is trying a new torrent-like model for a YouTube replacement that balances out issues of creator control, payment, and distributed delivery of content. And even the fact that there is some BitCoin hand-waving in their materials doesn’t bother me — Ted Nelson himself envisioned a web with a system of micropayments and credits to creators, and people should still be trying to get that done. Artists and writers need to eat too, and the current dissolution of our society is partially attributable to the advertising/platform-based revenue model which rewards distributors over creators and clickbait over depth. Putting money in the pockets of creators is good.

What I dislike is headlines like this:

ucb.JPG

Headline: 20,000 Worldclass Lectures Made Illegal, So We Irrevocably Mirrored Them

LIBRYIO took a bunch of OER and hosted it, the way people do every single day. That’s great. I like that.

But “made illegal?” The videos were never made illegal. Berkeley was told that they could no longer host the videos. As the press release that follows that headline notes, multiple archiving teams have been working on this effort, with Berkeley’s blessing: it’s OER.

The headline is phrased in classic Hacker News style, and I get it. Hustlers gotta hustle. The post slug is even worse — the lectures have been “rescued”. UC Berkeley spent years of effort and millions of dollars producing and sharing these lectures, and somehow LBRY is the hero of the story.

If the company really loves creators as much as it says it does, maybe they could spend some time talking about the wonderful work that UC Berkeley has been doing in this area instead of portraying them as simply a point of failure in the story. Maybe they could talk about the quality of the content they are seeding to the network. And if they really want to help out the OER community, maybe instead of seeing people with disabilities as the villain of the story they could caption those videos and feed forward the love, like a good open citizen.

This stuff seems petty, I suppose, but how you talk about creators matters, and how you talk about open matters. The hero of this story is UC Berkeley, which not only produced and shared their knowledge at the cost of millions of dollars over many years, but actually fought for their right to continue to do so in court. LBRY is either a distribution platform that is going to allow those OER heroes to shine brighter, or the latest in a series of platforms looking to make a quick fortune of the free work of others without advancing the value of their work. Press releases like this make me worry it’s likely to be more of what’s behind door number two.


19 Mar 02:57

Transcend the “Feature Factory” Mindset Using Modern Agile and OKR

by alex
By Alexandre Freire Kawakami and Felipe Castro

Agile adoption in most companies focuses on software delivery. Very few achieve business agility. When it comes to setting goals, the waterfall command-and-control mindset is still the norm: organizations use an annual, top-down process to create a set of static goals that is in direct conflict with being agile.

missedTarget

Waterfall goals and metrics turn teams into "feature factories" with no focus on delivering value. As John Cutler describes, many developers are “just sitting in the factory, cranking out features, and sending them down the line.”

Marty Cagan highlights the huge missed opportunity of feature factories: “teams are just there to flesh out the details, code and test, with little understanding of the bigger context, and even less belief that these are in fact the right solutions.” That is, the people closest to work have no influence on making decisions to help their customers or leverage existing solutions.

This failed version of Agile slows companies down and makes it harder for them to adapt to change while increasing risk and waste.

How can we even call them agile adoptions? Practitioners know that using Agile to deliver a waterfall plan has limited benefits: 70% of them report tension between their teams and the rest of the organization, while 46% of agile adoption failures are linked to company's culture and philosophy being at odds with agile values.

The alternative to transcend the "Feature Factory" mindset is to embrace Modern Agile's four principles. But how can we apply them in practice? How can we "do" Modern Agile?

There is one actionable tool for business agility that, if used correctly, will support the adoption of the four Modern Agile principles. This tool is OKR (Objectives and Key Results), the goal setting framework used by firms like Intel, Google, and Spotify.

The big difference from traditional planning methods? OKRs are set and evaluated frequently - typically quarterly. Furthermore, rather than being cascaded down the organization by the executives, OKR is bidirectional: teams create most of their OKRs in alignment with the company goals and then contract them with the managers in a bubble-up approach.

This approach provides a much more engaging environment for teams, who now feel responsible and accountable for the goals they help set, which they track on a fast weekly cycle.

Setting challenging goals is a fundamental tenet of OKR, which drives results and creativity. As Amantha Imber reported, research shows that if we put people in a role that challenges them, 67 per cent will demonstrate above-average creativity and innovation in their performance.

Dan Montgomery puts it well, “OKR is the day to day engine for organizational agility.”

How can OKR support the four Modern Agile principles?

modern agile principles

Deliver Value Continuously

In Modern Agile we know that working software is not a measure of progress. While an antiquated Agile mindset focuses on output-based metrics and concepts, such as the definition of done, acceptance criteria, burn-down charts, and velocity, Modern Agile knows that "done" only matters if it adds value.

This old assumption that working software is a measure of progress rests on the belief that all software that works is valuable. Modern Agile teaches us to focus on continuously delivering real value to help make our customers awesome.

“The key to [defeating] waterfall is to realize that agilists value Outcomes over Features. The feature list is a valuable tool, but it's a means not an end. What really matters is the overall outcome, which I think of as value to the customers.” Martin Fowler

Because it's just a framework, OKR can be used to measure outputs. The mere measurement of activities, however, is not a proper use of OKR and is incompatible with Modern Agile.

Practicing Modern Agile requires frequently setting and evaluating Value-based OKRs, which measure the delivery of value to the customer or the organization.

The two examples below clearly show the difference:

Activity-based Key Results Value-based Key Results
Develop 3 new landing pages
  • Generate 100 Marketing Qualified Leads.
  • Increase lead conversion from 5% to 8%.
  • Reduce Customer Acquisition Cost from $25 to $5.
Launch new product
  • Reach 500.000 Daily Active Users of the free version.
  • Achieve 5% conversion rate from free to paid users.
  • Achieve a Net Promoter Score of 35%.

By adopting Value-based OKRs, teams can focus on delivering value. But how can they do that "continuously"?

Several years after the release of The Lean Startup, most organizations are still working for months without delivering anything to the end user. For them, continuous delivery is a distant dream. They are stuck with the old Agile delusion that showing software to stakeholders during a sprint review or demo is an adequate measure of progress.

The OKR quarterly cycle acts as the ultimate timebox to deliver value: every team has to deliver some value during the quarter. That way, teams move beyond acceptance criteria and the definition of done all the way into testing hypotheses and experimenting and learning rapidly.

Just as with any tool. OKR is not perfect and can be misused. We think that by using Modern Agile's four principles to guide your OKR practice, they can be a valuable and concrete starting point for your Modern Agile journey.

Make People Awesome

“If you’re just using your engineers to code, you’re only getting about half their value.” Marty Cagan

The mindset that the team is incapable of deciding what to build is toxic and demotivating. The Modern Agile principle 'Make People Awesome' is grounded in providing people with opportunities to contribute their best ideas.

When your team has no voice regarding what to build and just empties their plate of backlog features one after another, they're not awesome.

To truly enable autonomous self-organizing teams, you need to give them the freedom to decide how to achieve the desired valuable outcomes. The role of the team has to change from: “delivering the features the stakeholders want” to “achieving the agreed Value-based OKRs.”

what are you working on and why?

Make Safety a Prerequisite

“The only way it's all going to go according to plan is if you don't learn anything” Kent Beck

Following a fixed roadmap that lasts months or even years is a remnant waterfall behavior that still plagues several organizations that call themselves agile. They expose themselves to risk by having teams, in their most part only composed of developers, incrementally (and blindly) delivering (and to a staging environment, not production) a waterfall backlog, without any form of external validation.

Furthermore, these plans are mostly devised by a single Product Owner or Manager, who doesn't even have access to production data that can help him/her understand the impacts of his/hers prioritization decisions. This sort of situation is demoralizing and unsafe. Mary Poppendieck, author of Leading Lean Software Development, wrote:

“Perhaps the biggest shortcoming of agile development practices is the way in which teams decide what to do. [...] for the longest time, answering these questions have not been considered the responsibility of the development team or the DevOps team.” Mary Poppendieck

OKR Makes Safety a Prerequisite by ensuring that the teams collaborate on setting goals and deciding what to build (or experiment with) and adopt shorter feedback cycles, reducing risk and waste.

As David J Bland wrote, “[the process of] annual planning and budgeting collide with your efforts to adapt and change your roadmap as you learn in the market... Leaders are finally realizing that to make their organizations more agile, they’ll need to start addressing some of these [fundamental] functions to achieve organizational agility.”

Experiment & Learn Rapidly

It is only possible to Experiment & Learn Rapidly when we focus on outcomes and evidence rather than personal opinions. Outdated Agile is driven by the few stakeholders’ definitions of what is valuable and accepted.

OKR replaces that subjectivity with measurable experiments that allow the team to learn and iterate. It enables teams to adopt practices such as Hypothesis-Driven Development, as described by Barry O'Reilly:

We believe <this capability> Will result in <this outcome> We will have confidence to proceed when <we see a measurable signal>

If our goal is a business outcome and we give the team the freedom to experiment towards that goal, small investments can lead to awesome results. In one such example, a 20-minute feature tripled sales for 'Know Your Company', while Eric Elliott delivered "one Jira ticket that made his employer $1MM/Month".

Conclusion

Just as with any other concrete planning framework, OKR is not perfect. Combining Modern Agile with the proper use of OKR can be a lightweight, joyful way for organizations to help their people achieve awesome results.

For more thoughts on Modern Agile and OKR, check-out modernagile.org and leanperformance.com

Thanks to Lael Gold, Joshua Kerievsky, Bill Wake and Tim Ottinger for early reviews. By Alexandre Freire Kawakami and Felipe Castro

The post Transcend the “Feature Factory” Mindset Using Modern Agile and OKR appeared first on Industrial Logic.

19 Mar 02:57

Tidbits for Your Weekend

by Ms. Jen
Local Pear Tree is the First to Bloom in my Mom's Yard

I have been collecting links for about a month now, some of these you may have already seen but enjoy the ones you have not yet read:

19 Mar 02:57

Super Mario Run is coming to Android on March 23rd

by Ian Hardy

Nintendo is following through on its promise to bring Super Mario Run to Android users worldwide this month.

After teasing the masses with a registration page, Nintendo announced today that the popular game will be available on March 23rd with the version 2.0.0 update.

Super Mario Run was originally released on iOS on December 15th, 2016 and was a runaway success with over 40 million downloads in the first four days of being available.

As previously reported, the game is free to download, but only the first three levels are playable. A $13.99 CAD in-app purchase is required to access the rest of the game’s content. It’s expected the same pricing will be on Android.

Those interested can pre-register for the game here at Google Play.

The post Super Mario Run is coming to Android on March 23rd appeared first on MobileSyrup.

19 Mar 02:57

Ich habe übrigens gerade das vierte Buch der Expanse-Serie ...

mkalus shared this story from Fefes Blog.

Ich habe übrigens gerade das vierte Buch der Expanse-Serie fertig gelesen, die ich hier empfohlen hatte und kann sagen: Die anderen Bücher sind auch hervorragend. Und zwar auf eine andere Art hervorragend, nicht einfach das selbe Muster nochmal angewendet.

Und ich will jetzt keine Kommentare hören, wie langsam ich lese. Ich lasse mir Zeit, um über Ideen nachdenken zu können. Und das ist für mich eine der größten Leistungen dieser Serie. Ideen.

Sci-Fi hat ja grob zwei Aufgaben. Eine andere Welt skizzieren und dadurch unsere Perspektive auf unsere aktuelle Welt ändern. Und: "Mind-Blowing". Sci-Fi soll Ideen bringen, die mein Hirn so stimulieren, dass ich das Gefühl kriege, mein Schädel ist zu eng. Das ist außerordentlich schwierig, und es gelingt auch Expanse nicht durchgehend. Aber jetzt nach Buch vier hab ich auf dem Rücken gelegen und die Decke angeguckt. Dafür lese ich Sci-Fi.

Oh und dann einfach auch das Storytelling. Ich kann das ja überhaupt nicht leiden, wenn in einer Geschichte jemand schlicht der Antagonist ist, weil er böse ist. Bei Expanse arbeiten extrem schlaue Leute an verschiedenen Handlungssträngen, und keiner von denen tut etwas, weil er halt böse ist. Oder weil er halt gut ist. Alles ist wunderbar nachvollziehbar — nicht nur nachvollziehbar, sondern wird auch vorbereitet und erklärt. Wenn es dann geschieht, ist keine Handlung eine echte Überraschung, auch wenn sie vielleicht im ersten Moment so wirkt.

Kurz gesagt: Großartiges Sci-Fi. Prima als Hirnspülung geeignet.

19 Mar 02:56

Pirate Bay’s Peter Sunde Doesn’t Plan to Pay Hollywood ‘Back’… Ever

by Ernesto
mkalus shared this story from TorrentFreak.

Former Pirate Bay spokesperson Peter Sunde paid the ultimate price for his involvement with the notorious pirate site, sacrificing his freedom.

Since his release from prison over two years ago he has been busy with several old and new projects, ranging from Flattr to his art projects, and even a TV-show in Finland.

However, even though he hasn’t been involved with TPB for nearly a decade, his past association still haunts him. Just last year a District Court in Finland ordered him to pay €350,000 ($375,000) for music shared illegally by the site’s users.

Speaking on TorrentFreak’s Steal This Show podcast this week, Peter says that he wasn’t even aware that the case was ongoing until he heard the verdict.

Peter explains that the court wants him to prove that he’s no longer operating The Pirate Bay. An impossible task, according to the former TPB spokesman, who used the court’s own logic in a snarky reply.

“I sent the message to the court saying: you have to prove that you’re not trying to poison me. I didn’t get a reply, so I guess they are trying to poison me. I’m using their own logic now,” he says.

Where most people would be devastated when told to pay hundreds of thousands of euros, Peter is no longer impressed. The Finnish case is still under appeal, but even if the damages amount stands, it’s not that big of a deal.

As the result of various court cases, the former TPB spokesman already owes millions to Hollywood. In Sweden alone, the damages are already well in the range of €15 million and increase every year with a fourteen percent interest rate, he says.

With these numbers the damages will be more than half a billion before he retires. In fact, it already is pretty much impossible for Peter to pay even the interest alone. It’s likely he’ll be in debt for the rest of his life. But even if he could pay, he wouldn’t.

“Out of principle I would never pay them anything,” Peter says, as he doesn’t feel that he took anything from the Hollywood studios or record labels to begin with.

“People ask me so many times: how are you going to pay the money back, and I’m like, what do you mean back? You have to have the money first in order to give it back. There was never any money handed over to me. I didn’t take any money.”

During the Pirate Bay trial, Peter and his co-defendants presented evidence showing that piracy doesn’t cause rightsholders any significant harm, if any at all. However, The Pirate Bay defendants had to pay nonetheless, as the rightsholders argued that a proper license would have cost them too.

While debts can be a real burden, Peter is relaxed. Many of his friends are struggling to pay their mortgages or student loans, but he has stopped worrying.

“When you get to ten million euros, it is not like those two hundred and fifty euros per month are actually going to get you into that debt-free zone when you’re sixty. So you don’t care about it, you stop caring about it,” he says.

The massive debt, in a way, provided him a sense of freedom. No matter what financial trouble he runs into, it will still be impossible to pay. And since Peter opted not to pay at all, there’s less of a burden.

“So the only thing that actually happens is that you pay less. You just change the way of life. You’re actually protected. I can owe quite a lot of money. It means that I will never have to pay anything because I won’t be in a position where that’s gonna happen.

“Maybe I should start a torrent site in Sweden,” Peter jokes.

More details on the full episode with Peter Sunde is available at the Steal This Show website.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

19 Mar 02:55

Why is Greenland an Island and Australia a Continent?

by TodayIFoundOut
mkalus shared this story from TodayIFoundOut's YouTube Videos.

From: TodayIFoundOut
Duration: 04:37

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Why “Colonel” is Pronounced “Kernel”
https://youtu.be/7opCZv6JqnU?list=PLR0XuDegDqP3-uys3Rl2dvdsFkk96zRbt

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https://youtu.be/J1tl0P4gbb8?list=PLR0XuDegDqP3-uys3Rl2dvdsFkk96zRbt

In this video:

There are several different ways of thinking about how many continents there are, with models ranging from 4 to 7 continents. However, in most English speaking countries, as well as other nations around the world, the 7-continent model is taught. Using this model, the continents of the world in order of size (descending) are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia.

Want the text version?: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/04/why-greenland-is-an-island-and-australia-is-a-continent/

Sources:

http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-94052077/stock-photo-highly-detailed-planet-earth-at-night-with-embossed-continents-illuminated-by-light-of-cities.html?src=WKbPm5BW3NcX9kogmxgG8A-1-75
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/as.html
https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gl.html
http://geography.about.com/od/learnabouttheearth/a/australiagreenlandcontinents.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flora_and_fauna_of_Greenland
http://www.learner.org/interactives/dynamicearth/images/new_map.jpg
http://denmark.dk/en/society/greenland-and-the-faroes/
http://quoteinvestigator.com/2010/08/26/two-continents/

Image Credit:

https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ru/image-150685412/stock-vector-seven-continents-map-with-national-borders-asia%2C-africa%2C-north-and-south-america%2C-antarctica%2C-europe-and-australia-detailed-map-under-robinson-projection-and-english-labeling-on-white-background
https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ru/image-99086879/stock-photo-aerial-view-of-the-gold-coast
https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ru/image-131027435/stock-vector-black-australia-map-on-light-grey-background-black-australia-map-vector-illustration
https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ru/image-134487215/stock-vector-black-greenland-map-on-light-grey-background-black-greenland-map-vector-illustration
https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ru/image-125573240/stock-vector-tectonic-plates-of-planet-earth-map-with-names-of-major-an-minor-plates
https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ru/image-130331672/stock-photo-kangaroos-mother-and-son-portrait
https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ru/image-76018655/stock-photo-silhouettes-of-people-holding-flag-of-greenland
https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ru/image-76187549/stock-vector-australia-map-with-flag-inside
https://www.bigstockphoto.com/ru/image-135234797/stock-vector-traditional-indian-symbols-in-the-form-of-india-map-india-traditional%2C-indian-culture%2C-india-country%2C-vector-illustration

19 Mar 02:54

SXSW 2017 on BitTorrent: 7.86 GB of Free Music

by Ernesto
mkalus shared this story from TorrentFreak.

Starting in 2005, the SXSW music festival has published thousands of free tracks from participating artists.

The festival was, in fact, one of the first mainstream outlets to embrace torrents.

During the early years the festival organizers created the torrents for the artist showcases themselves, but since 2008 this task has been taken over by the public.

While torrents are no longer the standard, SXSW’s showcase MP3s are still freely available on the festival’s site for sampling purposes.

For the past several years Ben Stolt has taken the time and effort to put all of the MP3s on BitTorrent. Last week he published the latest 2017 torrent, which consists of 1,201 tracks totaling 7.86 gigabytes of free music.

All the tracks released for the previous editions are also still available and most of these torrents remain well-seeded. The 2005 – 2017 archives now total more than 77 gigabytes.

Stolt previously told TorrentFreak that he spends several hours preparing the releases each year, in part for his personal pleasure.

“My motivation is in part selfish, because, like many others, my friends and I all use the contents of the torrent to prepare for our week at SXSW Music. But without fail the emails start coming in January and February asking if there will be a torrent,” Stolt said.

“Many people come back every year, so I can’t leave them hanging,” he adds.

The effort pays off, though. Many people love the SXSW torrents, which attract tens of thousands of downloaders each year. The SXSW torrents site also gets quite a bit of traffic, over a million visits thus far.

For some, the showcase torrent is a good consolation for not being able to attend the festival in person. Others see it as a yearly tradition that allows them to fill up their hard drive and check out recent music from new and established artists for free.

This year’s SXSW music festival is currently underway in Austin, Texas and ends on Sunday. The torrent, however, is expected to live on for many years, as long as people are sharing.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.