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Give your students edit access to their course syllabus - An educator wanted to give students more agency...

Posted on: Sun, 2018-11-25 - 17:17 By: admin

Give your students edit access to their course syllabus - An educator wanted to give students more agency in their learning so she let them make pull requests against the syllabus

An interesting experience told by an educator who tried this out. I like this type of approach to learning vs a fixed syllabus paid publisher approach.

Heidi Ellis is Professor and Chair of the Computer Science and Information Technology department at Western New England University. She has a long-time interest in computing education and has been supporting student participation in open source software since 2006.

See https://opensource.com/open-organization/18/11/making-course-syllabus-open

#openlearning #openeducation


Give your students edit access to their course syllabus | Opensource.com
I wanted to make my college course more participatory and give students more agency in their learning. So I let them make pull requests against the syllabus.

Watch Thomas Dolby Performing In High Fidelity And Decide If Social VR Is The Future Of Live Online ...

Posted on: Sun, 2018-11-25 - 16:40 By: admin

Watch Thomas Dolby Performing In High Fidelity And Decide If Social VR Is The Future Of Live Online Music

Imagine this with improved graphics and being able to look around in the first person as if you are standing there looking at the stage or the person sitting next to you. This could be the future of virtualised music concerts or educational classrooms, or work. The ironic thing is that the technology is actually ready but it just has not become mainstream.

Concert performances remain the core revenue source for professional musicians (even more so in this era of streaming services, which utterly short shrift artists), but the costs of shipping, traveling, and stage management are huge. Thomas Dolby was doing this particular show for free, but just imagine if those 200 audience members paid, say, $20 each to experience Dolby in an immersive setting, plus any virtual merch they bought after the show. They'd get as good an experience if they saw the musician perform in person for many times that ticket price -- and the musician would gross $4000 for a few hours of work from the comfort of their own studio.

Of course, there are many others who would lose out on real concert revenue and this creates resistance to these ideas going mainstream. That said many of the supporting services themselves could be virtualised by the same people so that the musician gets on with just performing and someone else does the venue, stage, sound, etc.

Watch the video at https://youtu.be/LvzIRLglj_Y. The concert actually starts at around 07:30.

#socialVR #virtualperformance

Tanzania orders destruction of Monsanto/Gates’ GM trials due to illegal use for pro-GM propaganda = ...

Posted on: Sun, 2018-11-25 - 15:47 By: admin

Tanzania orders destruction of Monsanto/Gates’ GM trials due to illegal use for pro-GM propaganda = Big Business steamrollering its message to citizens to change hearts and minds

Tanzanian civil society organisations (CSOs) welcome the decision of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Mathew Mtigumwe, to bring an immediate stop to all ongoing GM field trials taking place in the country. These are under the auspices of the Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project which includes Monsanto, the Gates Foundation and national research centres. This decision has since been verified by the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Japheth Hasunga in latest media reports.

Unauthorised access to trial sites indicates collusion between biotech lobbyists and GM researchers paid by the Gates Foundation and others. Mark Lynas’s unethical social media hype uses Tanzania’s smallholder farmers in an instrumentalist way as a means to justify the introduction of GMO crops in the country, claiming that Tanzanians are poor and hungry. The statements of the pro-GM scientists have not yet been corroborated by the Ministry of Agriculture or related institutions such as the Tanzania Official Seed Certification Institute (TOSCI).

The biotech machinery both in Tanzania and elsewhere has supported a well-funded media campaign to spread pro GM propaganda and to push for the adoption of GM maize in the country, despite the questionable benefits for smallholder farmers. They have consistently made unsubstantiated claims about the GM varieties, including superior drought tolerance and resistance to fall army worm. In a media report ‘New push in pipeline for acceptance of GMO seed’, GMO trials were hailed as a “success” with the Director General of TARI claiming that ‘GMO seeds are a solution to the longstanding problems of pest invasions in farms across Tanzania’. These unsubstantiated claims were made on the effectiveness of the insect-resistant Bt trait -MON 810 - that was ‘donated’ to WEMA countries even though it has been phased out in South Africa due to massive and widespread insect resistance.

That the claims are unsubstantiated was confirmed by the recent decision of South African biosafety authorities to reject Monsanto’s application for commercial release of its triple stacked GM drought-tolerant maize, MON 87460 x MON 89034 x NK 603. The decision was made on the grounds that the field trial data insufficiently demonstrated the claimed drought and insect resistant efficacy of the GM event. MON 87460 is currently being field trialled in Kenya, Uganda and Mozambique where the WEMA project is also active. The decision to stop the trials is another blow to the WEMA project following so soon after the South African decision.

Organisations have condemned threats by local scientists, who are paid by WEMA, to push for further revisions of the country’s biosafety regulations.

The essence of the message here is really that unsubstantiated claims are being made and there is collusion and unethical social media hype being created to misrepresent the findings to citizens. Leaving the merits, or demerits, of GM aside this represents strongly with the tobacco and big oil lobby groups have been doing over the decades. The issue is not so much the 'what' but rather the 'how'. And of course Monsanto's name has been linked to other dubious practices in the past years (and I've featured one or two in previous posts).

See https://acbio.org.za/en/tanzania-orders-destruction-monsantogates-gm-trials-due-illegal-use-pro-gm-propaganda

#GMO #Monsanto


Tanzania orders destruction of Monsanto/Gates’ GM trials due to illegal use for pro-GM propaganda | ACB
Dar es Salaam 23 November 2018. Tanzanian civil society organisations (CSOs) welcome the decision of the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Mathew Mtigumwe, to bring an immediate stop to all ongoing GM field trials taking place in the country. These are ...

South African app uKheshe launched for micropayments - recipient needs no bank account and only a USSD...

Posted on: Sun, 2018-11-25 - 15:23 By: admin

South African app uKheshe launched for micropayments - recipient needs no bank account and only a USSD enabled phone

South African start-up Jini Guru has launched a smartphone app and QR card to allow users to make micropayments electronically, to a car guard for example, without the need to carry cash.

uKheshe is made up of two parts: the app, which the payer installs on their smartphone, and the QR card, which the recipient has linked to their cellphone number (but it does not need to be an app on the phone - it could even be a printed QR code). “With the app installed, the payer simply selects the amount they wish to pay, then scans the QR code,” he said.

“The recipient is able to check their balance and withdraw cash by using the USSD code *120*82274# following the instructions and visiting the nearest Pick n Pay store.” App users can top up their app balance via credit or debit card. Those with money on the cards can withdraw the cash at Pick n Pay till points or use them in exchange for in-store goods.

User can spend up to R3 000/day or R24 000/month. The QR card costs R5/month for active cards. There is a R5 withdrawal fee, or R2 to pay for goods directly. The charge for topping up in the app is 4.5% of the deposited amount.

So it is obviously going to be very costly for someone to make lots of small withdrawals and they need to ensure their QR code remains active. The usual challenge remains with many many payment options (Zapper, SnapScan, this one and more, both parties need to be using it). Of course the more payers see a recognised payment method, the more they will install and use the app.

See https://techcentral.co.za/sa-app-ukheshe-launched-for-micropayments/85337/

#micropayments


SA app uKheshe launched for micropayments - TechCentral

High LDL cholesterol 'may' protect against dementia – don’t tell the statin pushers!

Posted on: Sun, 2018-11-25 - 12:15 By: admin

High LDL cholesterol 'may' protect against dementia – don’t tell the statin pushers!

A new study from China suggests that those with higher levels of LDL-C have a lower incidence of dementia. They evaluated 3,800 subjects with a mean age of 69 years, performing extensive neuropsychological and cognitive ability testing. They found that the diagnosis of dementia and cognitive impairment correlated with increasing age, decreasing education level, diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, and being an ApoE4 carrier. After controlling for all these factors, they also found that those in the highest tertile of LDL-C (>142 mg/dL or 3.7 mmol/L) had a 50% lower incidence of dementia than those in the lowest tertile (<110 mg/dL or 2.9 mmol/L).

These findings are consistent with a prior study (also observational) examining the Framingham Heart Study data that found lower risk of dementia in those over 85 years old with higher cholesterol levels.

In fairness, these studies were observational studies, so they do not prove higher LDL-C directly protected against dementia. We can hypothesize why higher levels of LDL-C are associated with lower incidence of dementia. It could be a marker of overall health or nutritional status, it could be that LDL-C directly improves the health of neurons and prevents brain atrophy, or it could be more related to lack of diabetes or ApoE4 status for which a study may not always completely control.

Even without proving causation, these studies are wonderful reminders that we can easily get caught up in one specific disease processes (i.e. cardiovascular disease) and forget about the rest of the patient. The old joke is that when the surgeon talks to the family after a complicated and risky coronary bypass surgery, he says, “The surgery was a great success. The grafts were perfect, and the anastomosis were flawless, some of the best I have ever done. I’m sorry the patient died, but the surgery was wonderful.”

NB: Do not consider this as medical advice as everyone should consult their doctor before making any lifestyle changes. I post this because I find it interesting how various studies and medical (especially dietary) advice is not conclusive. It's up to us to also take accountability for our own health and to find out more.

See https://www.dietdoctor.com/high-ldl-cholesterol-may-protect-against-dementia-dont-tell-the-statin-pushers

#cholesterol #statins


High LDL cholesterol may protect against dementia — Diet Doctor
Don’t tell the statin brigade, but elevated LDL cholesterol may actually help us as we age! A new study from China suggests that those with higher levels of LDL-C have a lower incidence of dementia.

Air pollution may harm cognitive intelligence, study says (Further Research on 20,000 participants)

Posted on: Sun, 2018-11-25 - 11:55 By: admin

Air pollution may harm cognitive intelligence, study says (Further Research on 20,000 participants)

Chronic exposure to air pollution could be linked to cognitive performance, a new study in China suggests. Researchers believe that the negative impact increases with age, and affects men with less education the worst. Over four years, the maths and verbal skills of some 20,000 people in China were monitored by the US-Chinese study.

However, while establishing a link between pollution and lower test scores, the study did not prove cause and effect.

The study - which includes researchers from Beijing's Peking University and Yale University in the US - was based on measurements of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates smaller than 10 micrometres in diameter where participants lived. It is not clear how much each of these three pollutants is to blame.

Carbon monoxide, ozone and larger particulates were not included in the study.

Described as an invisible killer, air pollution causes an estimated seven million premature deaths a year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

See https://www.bbc.com/news/health-45326598

#airpollution


Air pollution 'harms mental performance'
Chronic exposure to toxic air has a bigger negative impact on older men, a new study in China suggests.

Amateur radio operator provides aid from a great distance - Never underestimate the potential of volunteerism...

Posted on: Sat, 2018-11-24 - 21:50 By: admin

Amateur radio operator provides aid from a great distance - Never underestimate the potential of volunteerism

Amateur radio operator Fred Moore recently assisted the United States Coast Guard with an on-the-water rescue of a mariner suffering chest pains in the Atlantic Ocean.

Society does not only depend on paid emergency workers or law enforcement etc. Volunteers are a vital supplement to these paid services for two reasons: Firstly they are not paid to do it as a job and have a genuine desire to help, and Secondly because they often have a specific skill or experience that they are good at.

Although such volunteers often organise themselves into teams/clubs that operate over an extended period it is true that volunteers can't be held legally liable to prove a 24/7 service for 365 days of the year but this is why also they do not replace existing agencies or services - they serve a complementary function and often fill niches (like the example case here) where normal services do not extend to.

Many years ago when I was a serving police officer I remember with gratitude many volunteer police reservists coming to work during specific holiday periods which allowed permanent police officers to take time off (police have to maintain a minimum operational strength which limits leave that can be taken to a specified percentage of their strength). Not only was this appreciated by police officers but it also helped maintain that bond with the community itself. Such an appreciation and bond with the community is essential to democratic policing - but that is a whole different topic.

See the story about the rescue in the Atlantic Ocean at https://www.chronicleonline.com/news/local/local-amateur-radio-operator-provides-aide-from-great-distance/article_8fa9b6ce-edd2-11e8-9d4e-171928d049ad.html

#amateurradio #hamradio #volunteerism


Local amateur radio operator provides aid from great distance | Local News |

Franc for iOS and Android - Stokvel investment app wins the South African nomination for Seedstars World...

Posted on: Sat, 2018-11-24 - 21:17 By: admin

Franc for iOS and Android - Stokvel investment app wins the South African nomination for Seedstars World in Switzerland in April 2019

Franc, a mobile app that allows stokvel members to invest in money market and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), scooped the top award at the Seedstars World South Africa finals, held in Cape Town recently.

Now in its fifth year, Seedstars World is a global early-stage start-ups competition for emerging markets and fast-growing start-ups. Held in partnership with online payment gateway PayFast, the competition identifies the best seed-stage entrepreneurs and provides them with an opportunity to win up to $1 million, and network with investors and mentors from around the world.

The Johannesburg-based app aims to help SA's traditional stokvel (a savings or investment society) to go digital by providing free access to high-performing, low-cost investments on a mobile phone. The stokvel has long been SA's favourite way for a group of people to save and invest. The app allows members to invest in money market and ETFs for R5 a month. ETFs are listed investment products that track the performance of a group or shares, bonds or commodities. According to the National Stokvel Association of SA, there are over 11.4 million individual stokvel members, belonging to over 811 000 groups. Collectively, stokvels are said to contribute about R49 billion to the national economy annually.

As part of the prize, the start-up will participate in the Seedstars Summit, which takes place in Switzerland, in April 2019.

See https://www.itweb.co.za/content/KWEBbvyaRRQvmRjO

#stokvel #mobileapp #investing


Stokvel investment app wins Seedstars World SA | ITWeb
The Franc app wins the local leg of Seedstars World, standing a chance to win $1 million in funding at the finals.

Wet Shave Review Raw Shaving RS18 Safety Razor with Lubricating strips - Does wet shaving need 'gimmicks...

Posted on: Sat, 2018-11-24 - 21:08 By: admin

Wet Shave Review Raw Shaving RS18 Safety Razor with Lubricating strips - Does wet shaving need 'gimmicks'?

Much of today's drive back to traditional wet shaving was that if the technique and preparation are correct, you should not be chasing 8 blades, chemical additions to shaving cream, etc. A good sharp single blade, good shaving angle, good prep of skin, a good shaving cream reapplied during the shave to provide glide, should be all that is needed. The idea of reapplying shaving cream between shaving passes is to maintain good glide.

I'm not saying these lubricating strips (at least they are re-usable and hopefully for long-term use) do nothing for the shave but I'm also wary of marketing gimmicks being introduced to push sales where it is strictly not needed as then we start treading down the same road that Gillette took us many years ago and ended up with the 8 blade razor.

On a more positive note, if the marketers and this type of 'innovation' is appearing, it means this type of shaving is getting more mainstream. That is what happens economically with anything that starts to get traction in the market. These innovations will live or die hopefully by choice in the market. If there is a niche that enjoys it it will fulfil that need whilst others have the choice to carry on with what they use.

Maybe the most important though is that we keep having choices and that a new idea coming into the market is not stifled for the sake of no change. I just don't want to lose having the choice to find good basic shavers on the market.

See http://www.razoremporium.com/blogwet-shave-review-raw-shaving-rs18-safety-razor-with-lubricating-strips/

#wetshaving #traditionalshaving #shaving


Wet Shave Review Raw Shaving RS18 Safety Razor with Lubricating strips
Made from 316 stainless steel and engineered with absolute precision, the
Raw Shaving Safety Razor combines beauty and practicality. A slender handle offers grip and ergonomic flexibility, while the durable razor head features a built-in safety guard for maximum comfort. Form. Function. Simplicity. The Raw Shaving Safety Razor transcends traditional shaving and brings the experience into the 21st century! The unique lubrication strips are reus...

CCS Becoming Dominant DC Charging Standard In Europe — Will Nissan Drop CHAdeMO?

Posted on: Sat, 2018-11-24 - 20:37 By: admin

CCS Becoming Dominant DC Charging Standard In Europe — Will Nissan Drop CHAdeMO?

CHAdeMO, the DC charging standard formalised by Japanese manufacturers and Japanese power companies in early 2010, was the first and only DC charging option until the emergence of CCS in 2012–2013. CHAdeMO originated out of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s DC connector design. TEPCO had trialled numerous EV infrastructure projects between 2006 and 2009 in collaboration with Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Subaru (amongst others). The Mitsubishi i-MiEV was the first mass-produced EV to go into production with a CHAdeMO port from 2009 onwards and was quickly followed by the Nissan Leaf.

CCS (Combined Charging System) got started in early 2011 as a collaboration between the SAE (a mainly US technical standards organisation that has close links to GM) and the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. The headline idea behind CCS was that the design allowed for both AC and DC charging to be combined within a single plug design (thus Combined Charging System). CHAdeMO plugs are DC only, with EVs required to have an additional and separate AC plug.

Along with Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV and the Prius Prime PHEV, Nissan is now one of the few automakers still going the CHAdeMO route outside of Japan (the BMW i3 still has CHAdeMO implemented in its Japanese version). Meanwhile, in the US, the Electrify America network has both CHAdeMO and CCS equipment, but its CHAdeMO plugs top out at 50 kW, whereas the CCS plugs offer 150–350 kW. From the photo leaks that have seen, the next-generation 60 kWh LEAF appears to stick with CHAdeMO. If that’s the case, it may be the only mainstream BEV to do so. Is this the right strategy for Nissan?

Of course with country standards, there is often also politics of one form or another behind it. I just hope that the "best" (technologically speaking) standard wins through as interoperability is key for the global economy.

See https://cleantechnica.com/2018/11/22/ccs-becoming-dominant-dc-charging-standard-in-europe-will-nissan-drop-chademo/

#EV #chargingstandards


CCS Becoming Dominant DC Charging Standard In Europe — Will Nissan Drop CHAdeMO? | CleanTechnica
Recent and upcoming EVs are designed for DC fast charging speeds of 100 kW and more, and are overwhelmingly favouring CCS as the standard charging architecture. Next generation charging networks in Europe and the US are also favouring CCS. Despite it's early lead, CHAdeMO now looks to be falling behind.
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