Connect with us


‘The Effects Cannot Be Overstated’: When Tech Invaded Media





How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Jim Rutenberg, media columnist for The Times, discussed the tech he’s using.

Tech and media have long been converging. What are the biggest effects on the media industry, and how has it had to adapt?

The effects cannot be overstated — and in some ways, everything is changing, which is what makes it so exciting to cover.

First there’s streaming, which has blown apart the television model that I started covering 20 years ago. The traditional networks are under siege, and that, in turn, is breaking up the longstanding Hollywood power structure — and the old boys’ network behind it — in welcome ways. The amount of quality programming is off the charts, and opportunities for newcomers with new ideas and backgrounds are unparalleled in the history of the moving image.

The question is what the new power structure will look like. Will it be more reflective of America and continue to tell better stories about it? Or will it be meet the new boss, same as the old boss?

In journalism, it’s a mixed bag. The giant sucking sound you hear is Silicon Valley vacuuming the digital ad dollars out of the news business, badly hurting small and midsize newspapers across the country. This is now a given, but I’ll say it again anyway: As newspapers fall, leaving important local issues uncovered, the social media companies contributing to their deaths are helping to fill the content void with unverified, and at worst patently false, information. Solutions are not coming fast, though smart people are working on it.

At the same time, the digital transformation has introduced supercool ways of telling stories and given the industry a new dynamism from a new talent pool. At the end of the day, though, the basics still rise: penetrating, holy-smokes reporting in stories well told.

How do you consume media now? Which gadgets or tech services do you use most often?

I am so addicted to my iPhone that my fingers hurt. My distal interphalangeal joints — the ones toward the tips of my digits — take it particularly hard, though they are probably so strong by now they could lift a VW Bug. I’m a 6s-type person, and if I didn’t have the iPhone battery case I’d be dead in the water by noon every day (especially when dealing with sensitive sources via battery-eating encrypted apps).

Most of my iPhone time is spent on Twitter, far more than I want to admit. I use Twitter far more to consume than to tweet myself; I prefer to save my best thoughts for my column, though I am constantly reassessing that as I watch many of my colleagues make wonderful use of the platform to report without cutting into their more traditional dispatches.

That said, I’ve balanced my follows such that Twitter and, secondarily, Facebook still do a fairly good job of serving up content I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed (So I won’t delete my accounts — yet). With friends who are less social media oriented, I remain an evangelist for a well-curated feed, though I include a trigger warning: The dreck that inevitably works its way into the stream can ruin your day (or your democracy), as the world now knows. I find that Instagram is a good antidote, and I keep mine personal, and away from work.

I start the morning on my iPad, where I peruse Flipboard and the traditional newspaper apps: The Times’s, The Wall Street Journal’s, The Washington Post’s and those of various local news organizations (The Palm Beach Post, The Texas Tribune,, especially when I’m traveling.

I’m using Apple TV more and more, and am constantly toggling between my content on Apple, Amazon Prime, Netflix and the cable box. I’ve yet to figure out the remotes; I just push buttons until stuff turns on.

Spotify is a constant in my life, and it’s what I usually use on my Sonos home speaker system as well.

What could be better about the tech tools you rely on most for your beat?

Among all their downsides, the news algorithms of Twitter and Facebook do a lousy job serving up items that aren’t directly in the trending hurricane du jour. It would be great if they could be more like Spotify, which has developed a very good formula for finding songs and bands you have never heard of but will probably like — with curveballs thrown in that run counter to your taste, in case you’re up for expanding your repertoire. It may be easier to do with music, which calms the savage beast, than with words and pictures, whose power to enrage has only grown.

Also, the platforms simply have to do a better job of identifying and eradicating bots whose sole mission appears to be to inflame and harass. Yes, they target all sorts of users, but in some cases (and in the parochial terms of my beat) they’re aimed at journalists — either to sway them or to just attack them, in another affront on democracy’s fourth estate.

Don’t get me started on misinformation. I have too many columns ahead to fill on the topic.

What tech product are you personally obsessed with?

I’m going to cheat and talk about two. And it won’t be pretty.

Let’s start with Nest. The device — at least ours, which we got two years ago — has a mind of its own. At times, it makes me feel as if I’m in the “Jetsons” reboot episode in which the robots all turn against George. My wife and I are often away from our house for long periods, so we keep the heat low. The Nest allows us to warm it from afar hours ahead of time so we don’t come home to an icebox.

But then, for no apparent reason, the Nest will set the heat back to low when we’re in the house so it is suddenly freezing again. This has happened in exceedingly cold weather when there are pipes to worry about. The device is running on an algorithm that we can turn off — I get that (theoretically, at least; my m.o. with tech is to figure out the minimum that will serve my needs and leave it at that). And I’m sure there are other ways to fix it. The other day I hit up against a new and unforeseen problem — it went totally dead on me just as a cold snap kicked in. I forgot to pay the internet bill. I know one thing: My old thermostat was immune to my own idiocy, didn’t play games with me or jeopardize my plumbing and I didn’t need to pore through a manual to figure it out. We are giving it one more chance before we ditch it.

Ditto Sonos. The stereo speakers are wireless and portable, so you can play music throughout your house from your iPhone, without having to hire a contractor to embed speakers in your walls or sell you some fancy and expensive system.

But often — usually when we’re throwing a dinner party — the speakers will stop playing as the app goes on the fritz for prolonged periods without obvious reason. (And customer support isn’t all that supportive.) That never happened with my old Sony hi-fi. One more ruined playlist during a party and I’m out.

What’s one app you can’t live without?

Surfline. It’s not the only app to give you surf conditions and predictions, and it’s not the only good one. But its easy-to-digest ratings — “good,’’ “fair,’’ “poor” — are great for committed surfers with the unfortunate affliction of a day job.

The app offers plenty of data and has a wealth of surf cams from breaks around the world, so you can see the swell before you go — or stare longingly at your home break when you’re in another meeting and your editor’s all, like, blah, blah, blah. Cowabunga.


Source link

قالب وردپرس


Trudeau Government Should Turn to Sustainable Floor Heating In Its New Deal





A consortium has been chosen by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) to manage the $1.1-billion overhaul of five heating and cooling plants in the National Capital Region. However, this decision has been met with a lot of disapproval by the country’s largest federal public service union.

Early June, the department announced that Innovate Energy has been awarded the 30-year contract “to design, retrofit, maintain and operate the plants,”winning the bid over a rival group that included SNC-Lavalin.

Minister of Environment, Catherine McKenna, said the federal government was “leading by example” in its bid to drastically reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions across the country. McKenna noted that by supporting this project, they’re utilizing heating and cooling infrastructure to promote a more environmentally friendly option.

“We’re very proud that our government is working with partners like Innovate Energy to modernize this critical infrastructure,” she said during the announcement at one of the facilities that will be upgraded, the Cliff Heating and Cooling Plant in downtown Ottawa.

The plants would be known as the district energy system and would heat 80 buildings in the area with steam. It is also expected to cool 67 of these buildings with chilled water through more than 14 kilometres of underground pipes.

Under the Energy Services Acquisition Program, PSPC will be tasked with modernizing the outdated technology in the plants to lower emissions and supportgrowth in the eco-friendly technology sector.

During the first stage of the overhaul, the system would be converted from steam to low temperature hot water and then switched from steam to electric chillers—with the estimated completion date being 2025. PSPC notes that the project will reduce current emissions by 63 per cent, the equivalent of removing 14,000 non-eco-friendly cars off the road.

Afterwards, the natural gas powering the plant will then be replaced by carbon-neutral fuel sources, which according to estimated will reduce emissions by a further 28 per cent. The renovation project is bound to save the government an estimated fee of more than $750 million in heating and cooling costs in the next 40 years.

Furthermore, the implementation of radiant floor heating in Ottawa by the federal government would be an additional step in driving its agenda for a more eco-friendly state.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Savers website, radiant floor heating has a lot of benefits and advantages over alternate heat systems and can cut heating costs by 25 to 50 per cent.

“It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because no energy is lost through ducts,” the website states.

Radiant floor heating provides an equal amount of heat throughout a building, including areas that are difficult to heat, such as rooms with vaulted ceilings, garages or bathrooms. Consideringit warms people and objects directly—controlling the direct heat loss of the occupant—radiant floor heating provides comfort at lower thermostat settings.

“Radiators and other forms of ‘point’ heating circulate heat inefficiently and hence need to run for longer periods to obtain comfort levels,” reports the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNet).

Radiant heating is a clean and healthy option—a perfect choice for those with severe allergies—as it doesn’t rely on circulating air, meaning there are no potentially irritating particles blowing around the room. Additionally, it is more energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing with wall radiators or floor registers and virtually noiseless when in operation.

“They draw cold air across the floor and send warm air up to the ceiling, where it then falls, heating the room from the top down, creating drafts and circulating dust and allergens.”

It is important for the leadership in Ottawa to equally drive the adoption of radiant floor heating as doing this would lead to increased usage in residential buildings—and even government-owned buildings.

However, in October, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), a representative body of employees of the plants,began a campaign target at the government against their decision to use a public-private partnership (P3) for the retrofitting project, citing concerns about costs and safety.

According to the union, outside employees won’t be bound to the same health and safety standards of government workers and that typically P3 projects cost a lot more than traditional public financing deals.

The union demands that the government scraps the proposed project and meet PSAC members and experts to brainstorm on a new way forward that would ensure federal employees continue to operate and maintain the plants.

However, parliamentary secretary to public services and procurement minister, Steve MacKinnon said that the union officials have consulted him but that after conducting an analysis, the P3 option was still the best for the job.

“We didn’t have (to) sacrifice on safety or health — we didn’t have to sacrifice on job security,” he said.

Continue Reading


Steps to becoming a Data Scientist





Data science has become one of the most in-demand career paths in this century, according to Business Insider. With the amount of information being circulated online, it has created a huge demand for storing, interpreting and implementing big data for different purposes—hence the need for a data scientist.

Today, there too much information flying around for regular people to process efficiently and use. Therefore, it has become the responsibility of data scientists to collect, organize and analyze this data. Doing this helps various people, organizations, enterprise businesses and governments to manage, store and interpret this data for different purposes.

Though data scientists come from different educational backgrounds, a majority of them need to have a technical educational background. To pursue a career in data science, computer-related majors, graduations and post graduations in maths and statistics are quite useful.

Therefore, the steps to becoming a data scientist are quite straightforward.  After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in an IT related field—such as computer science, maths or physics—you can also further your education by obtaining a master’s degree in a data science or any other related field of study. With the necessary educational background, you can now search for a job and obtain the required experience in whichever filed you choose to invest your acquired skills.

Here are the necessary steps to be taken to become a data scientist.

Step 1: Obtain the necessary educational requirements

As earlier noted, different educational paths can still lead to a career in data science. However, it is impossible to begin a career in data science without obtaining a collegiate degree—as a four-year bachelor’s degree is really important. However, according to a report by Business Insider, over 73% of data scientist in existence today have a graduate degree and about 38% of them hold a Ph.D. Therefore, to rise above the crowd and get a high-end position in the field of data science, it is important to have a Master’s degree or a Ph.D.—and with various online data science masters program, obtaining one is quite easy.

Some institutions provide data science programs with courses that will equip students to analyze complex sets of data. These courses also involve a host of technical information about computers, statistics, data analysis techniques and many more. Completing these programs equips you with the necessary skills to function adequately as a data scientist.

Additionally, there are some technical—and computer-based degrees—that can aid you begin a career in data science. Some of them include studies in, Computer Science, Statistics, Social Science, Physics, Economics, Mathematics and Applied Math. These degrees will imbibe some important skills related to data science in you—namely, coding, experimenting, managing large amounts of data, solving quantitative problems and many others.

Step 2: Choose an area of specialization

There rarely exists an organization, agency or business today that doesn’t require the expertise of a data scientist. Hence, it is important that after acquiring the necessary education to start a career as a data scientist, you need to choose an area of specialization in the field you wish to work in.

Some of the specializations that exist in data science today include automotive, marketing, business, defence, sales, negotiation, insurance and many others.

Step 3: Kick start your career as a data scientist

After acquiring the necessary skills to become a data scientist, it is important to get a job in the filed and company of your choice where you can acquire some experience.

Many organizations offer valuable training to their data scientists and these pieces of training are typically centred around the specific internal systems and programs of an organization. Partaking in this training allows you learn some high-level analytical skills that were not taught during your various school programs—especially since data science is a constantly evolving field.

Continue Reading


Artificial intelligence pioneers win tech’s ‘Nobel Prize’





Computers have become so smart during the past 20 years that people don’t think twice about chatting with digital assistants like Alexa and Siri or seeing their friends automatically tagged in Facebook pictures.

But making those quantum leaps from science fiction to reality required hard work from computer scientists like Yoshua Bengio, Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun. The trio tapped into their own brainpower to make it possible for machines to learn like humans, a breakthrough now commonly known as “artificial intelligence,” or AI.

Their insights and persistence were rewarded Wednesday with the Turing Award, an honor that has become known as technology industry’s version of the Nobel Prize. It comes with a $1 million prize funded by Google, a company where AI has become part of its DNA.

The award marks the latest recognition of the instrumental role that artificial intelligence will likely play in redefining the relationship between humanity and technology in the decades ahead.

Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society,” said Cherri Pancake, president of the Association for Computing Machinery, the group behind the Turing Award.

Although they have known each other for than 30 years, Bengio, Hinton and LeCun have mostly worked separately on technology known as neural networks. These are the electronic engines that power tasks such as facial and speech recognition, areas where computers have made enormous strides over the past decade. Such neural networks also are a critical component of robotic systems that are automating a wide range of other human activity, including driving.

Their belief in the power of neural networks was once mocked by their peers, Hinton said. No more. He now works at Google as a vice president and senior fellow while LeCun is chief AI scientist at Facebook. Bengio remains immersed in academia as a University of Montreal professor in addition to serving as scientific director at the Artificial Intelligence Institute in Quebec.

“For a long time, people thought what the three of us were doing was nonsense,” Hinton said in an interview with The Associated Press. “They thought we were very misguided and what we were doing was a very surprising thing for apparently intelligent people to waste their time on. My message to young researchers is, don’t be put off if everyone tells you what are doing is silly.” Now, some people are worried that the results of the researchers’ efforts might spiral out of control.

While the AI revolution is raising hopes that computers will make most people’s lives more convenient and enjoyable, it’s also stoking fears that humanity eventually will be living at the mercy of machines.

Bengio, Hinton and LeCun share some of those concerns especially the doomsday scenarios that envision AI technology developed into weapons systems that wipe out humanity.

But they are far more optimistic about the other prospects of AI empowering computers to deliver more accurate warnings about floods and earthquakes, for instance, or detecting health risks, such as cancer and heart attacks, far earlier than human doctors.

“One thing is very clear, the techniques that we developed can be used for an enormous amount of good affecting hundreds of millions of people,” Hinton said.

Continue Reading