first_imgDear Sir,I am writing in response to Miss Gallagher’s letter of September 14th ‘Why We Must Oppose Gay Marriage’ in which he urged readers to contact County Councillors to vote against the motion before them on Monday, on marriage equality.Miss Gallagher makes assertions that, should gay marriage become a legal reality in Ireland, the family would be undermined and society endangered. This is common rhetoric of a man with no understanding of the real issues at hand. All too often people in our society hide behind their ignorance and their beliefs in order to justify their discrimination against certain sections of that same society. They refuse to engage in order to actually learn about the issues at play. Let me clear some things up. Marriage equality would not endanger or undermine the family or the institution of marriage; it would strengthen them. Marriage equality seeks to protect families that exist where the parents of children are of the same sex. Presently these families are in danger with a lack of fundamental rights – both of the parents and, crucially, of the child. Marriage provides legal protections for the individuals involved within a family unit that civil partnership does not, such as citizenship and inheritance issues. One of the most important functions of marriage is to provide a stable environment in which children can be brought up. This stability currently does not exist.Miss Gallagher also states that Cllr. McCallion has, in tabling this motion for marriage equality, confused “the issue of rights and entitlements with changing the institution of marriage.” There is no confusion. The institution of marriage needs to be more accessible in order to grant those rights and entitlements associated with the institution to every citizen of Ireland. Ireland is a republic in which everyone is supposed to be treated equally before the law. Civil marriage is a state-provided institution. As such it should not be closed to a section of society. It is a discriminatory practice and needs to change immediately.“True love is about making sacrifices for others”, says Miss Gallagher. Yes, it is. So let those who experience true love, and want to demonstrate that true love, get on with it. Allow them to marry.Donegal County Council has an opportunity to send a signal and message to LGBT people living in the county that they are accepted and valued citizens of Donegal. It also has an opportunity to send a strong message to gay and lesbian youth in the county that the discrimination and prejudices they experience are unjustified and intolerable. The Tanáiste recently stated that the struggle for marriage equality is the great civil rights movement of our generation. He is correct. Donegal County Council would do well not to be on the wrong side of history. I call on all your readers to contact their Councillors and urge them to support the motion on Monday.Yours etc,Declan Meehan VIEWPOINT: COUNCILLORS MUST SUPPORT THE RIGHTS OF GAY PEOPLE was last modified: September 14th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:VIEWPOINT: COUNCILLORS MUST SUPPORT THE RIGHTS OF GAY PEOPLElast_img read more

South Africa leads African data storing project

first_imgRay Maota Data sharing allows countries to better anticipate natural disasters such as earthquakes. (Image: National Geographic) Chinese minister of science and technology Xu Guanhua, says China will establish 40 data centres by the end of 2010. (Image: Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth) MEDIA CONTACTS • Prof Tim O’Connor South African Environmental Observation Network +27 33 343 3491 RELATED ARTICLES • Blast-off for space weather centre • Research centre for African oceans • South African model for African maths centres • New centre to foster science careersSouth Africa is at the forefront of an endeavour to beef up the African continent’s data collecting and storing capabilities. This was announced at the annual conference of the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (Codata) in Cape Town towards the end of 2010.At the conference delegates were treated to a preview of the prototype of the World Data Centre on Biodiversity and Human Health in Africa, set to be opened in 2011 in South Africa.The importance of the centreThe centre will focus on topics such as geomagnetism (the earth’s magnetism), astronomy, and solar activity. It will allow researchers to understand how environmental trends relate to one another, such as climate change and malaria for example, by compiling data on such topics.Scientific data on Africa is currently dispersed mainly in countries off the continent, but the new centre aims to bring all this data together into a single resource that will be accessible online.Because data collection and management is still under-developed on the continent, policies to protect information have not yet been conceived and implemented.Daisy Selematsela, executive director of the Knowledge Management and Evaluation Directorate at the National Research Foundation in Pretoria, said that the lack of such policies has resulted in a fear of how the data will be used.“This is one of the things we need to look into,” she said. “There is a tendency to control access to data, perhaps because of concerns over its mis-interpretation or because data is power.”The centre will be on par with over 50 other data centres around the world, most of which are located in East Asia, Europe and the US.Data expert Wim Hugo of the South African Environmental Observation Network is confident that the centre will help researchers identify gaps in existing data, and give them historical data to compare to new findings. Hugo is an advocate of the new centre.With South Africa spearheading this initiative, there has already been collaboration between SA and Nasa in the US. The space agency sent more than 30 terabytes of free earth science satellite data to local researchers for them to use in environmental applications, and to support sustainable development.However, Unesco’s head of science policy Lidia Brito, speaking at the conference, cautioned that Africa’s challenge lies in being able to manage and interpret these increasing amounts of data.“We need to have the eyes to look beyond the data,” added Brito.The centre’s operations will initially depend on data sets currently hosted in South Africa and the US, while African organisations will be encouraged to contribute their own data as it becomes available.The Committee on Data for Science and Technology Part of the International Council for Science, Codata was established in 1966 in an effort to improve the accessibility of scientifically important data, as well as its quality, reliability and management.This resource provides scientists and engineers with access to international data activities, keeps them abreast of new international knowledge, and allows for direct cooperation.A major driving force in the establishment of Codata was the fact that the efficient management of scientific data was beyond the scope of a few dedicated individuals.Data sharing in the worldChina will provide over 80% of its data relating to research into pure science such as theoretical mathematics, physics and chemistry, making the knowledge freely available on the internet.Chinese minister of science and technology Xu Guanhua, said that to achieve this goal, China will establish 40 data centres by the end of 2010.”They will cover 300 databases relating to the environment, agriculture, human health, pure science, engineering and regional scientific and technology information,” he said.“All of them will be openly accessed through a public portal initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology in China,” Xu added.Preventing disasters through data sharingA UN and World Bank report released in November 2010 has revealed that humanitarian disasters caused by natural forces such as earthquakes and floods could in some cases be averted through global collection and sharing of hazard data.This would help to build up an international picture of risks to help make more sophisticated predictions on a local level, it reported.“Few countries collect data on hazards. Data on where past hazards have struck, frequency, intensity, and even data that is collected is not made accessible,” said Apurva Sanghi, a senior economist at the World Bank.“A lack of basic information means donor agencies that want to lessen the impact of, say, drought can’t make optimal decisions,” he said.last_img read more

Apple’s New Mac App Store: Our First Impressions

first_imgImplications of a Mac App StoreWill the Mac App Store be a boon to developers the way the iTunes App Store has been? Arguably, developers will get better exposure via the store. But as Apple is likely to continue to keep tight reins on what ends up in the store, some types of software – BitTorrent apps, for example, may find themselves closed out.Mac users, have you tried out the new App Store yet? What do you think about its content and delivery? Related Posts Apple has released an update to its OS this morning, and with it comes the new Mac App Store. The App Store is designed to bring to the Mac the same simplicity that iTunes offers for finding, buying and installing iPhone and iPad apps.Our first impressions: this is a fast and easy way to find and install apps on your Mac. Here’s what the App Store offers and how it works:Browsing for Apps What’s For Sale?Apple boasted over 1,000 apps available at launch; the store is full of the usual suspects. Well-known Apple titles are available: iMovie and GarageBand, for example, are available for $14.99, and Pages, Keynote, and Numbers are $19.99 each. Angry Birds is there ($4.99), of course, as is Evernote and Twitter (both free). Tags:#Apple#NYT#web Although it lives under a separate icon on your dock, the Mac App Store looks almost identical to the iTunes App Store. On the home page, you’ll find the “new and noteworthy” and featured apps. You can view the top paid and the top free apps, staff favorites and categories. You can access your account and you can search for apps. As in the iTunes App Store, each app has a description and user reviews. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketcenter_img Navigation isn’t great. There’s no “home” button, but as long as you can master the back and forward buttons, you should be fine.You can’t browse the Mac App Store on a device other than a Mac (on your iPhone or on the Web, for example).Buying AppsThe Mac App store requires an Apple ID in order to download and buy apps from the store. (And a side note here: if you’re getting an “Error 100” when you try to use the store for the first time, it means you haven’t signed the new Terms and Conditions that come with the release. I found relaunching the store prompted me to agree and sign.)No need to add payment information, as the App Store uses what’s already on file for your iTunes purchases. You can also use iTunes gift cardsBuying and installing apps is as easy as one click. The app then jumps to your dock. The App Store doesn’t seem to check to see if you already have the app installed – or at least, I didn’t receive any message to that effect when I downloaded Evernote, something already on my machine.You can view a list of the apps you’ve purchased and installed. Again, as with iTunes, you can check to see if any of your apps require updating, and if so you’ll be able to update all your apps at once – a nice feature for keeping your apps up-to-date without having to launch an app to see if you’ve got the latest version. A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… audrey watters Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img read more

Is Microsoft Doubling Down On the Exact Wrong Mobile Strategy?

first_imgWhat it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Poor Microsoft. In acquiring Nokia’s Devices and Services business, the company has signaled its intent to double-down on a vertically oriented product strategy that now seems passé. More poignantly, Microsoft may be turning its back on a horizontal product strategy for mobile at the very moment that Google has proven such a strategy to be successful.Microsoft’s Mobile Catch-22See also: Microsoft, Split Yourself Up—Or Your Enterprise Customers Are Going To WalkIt’s not surprising that Microsoft is confused. Microsoft made billions licensing its Windows operating system (OS) to server and desktop hardware companies, outpacing a control-freak Apple that insisted on a vertically integrated product approach, building its own hardware and software, even as it hemorrhaged market share. When mobile emerged as a serious market, Microsoft tried to replicate its desktop and server success with a horizontal approach to the market, licensing its Windows OS broadly.It didn’t work. As Clayton Christensen, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, could have predicted, in a new market an integrated approach works best. Apple’s vertically integrated approach, a poor fit for the mature desktop market, almost immediately took off to rave reviews and billions of dollars in quarterly profits in mobile space. Microsoft’s horizontal approach? Well, it led to Microsoft becoming increasingly irrelevant as mobile devices took center stage, as a graphic from Wells Fargo illustrates: Related Posts Matt Asay The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology Tags:#Android#Apple#cloud#enterprise#Microsoft#mobile#strategy#Windows Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement In response, Microsoft is now going ‘all in’ on vertical integration, buying Nokia’s phone business so that it can offer a complete hardware+software+services integrated solution.There’s just one problem: It no longer seems to be the right strategy.Google: The New MicrosoftWells Fargo senior technology analyst Jason Maynard captures this best in a recent research note, arguing that the market has moved back to a horizontally oriented approach:[T]he PC era is over. It has been replaced by a heterogeneous device world in which Microsoft must contend with other large players like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Samsung. In addition there are a number of cloud players like Dropbox, Box, Spotify, Pandora, Evernote and others that are eroding away at core utility, productivity, and entertainment layers of the PC ecosystem. In our view, users increasingly look for technology solutions that work across platforms and applications. Personal clouds, social networks and a myriad of computing devices all reflect a growing trend that puts the user at the center of the technology universe.In other words, few really want any particular vendor to completely own their entire computing experience in some perverse reincarnation of CompuServe. Yes, some people use Apple end-to-end, including hardware, software (including iWork—shudder) and cloud services.But they’re the exceptions, not the rule.Far more people may use an Apple device (though increasingly market share goes to Android) with Google for calendar, email and other services.Indeed, Google is really the team to emulate and beat. Google succeeds because even though it ostensibly offers an integrated experience, it doesn’t fixate on this experience. Google happily builds its services and software to run on others’ platforms, and quite often that software and those services run better on rival platforms than on Android.While Microsoft has always privileged its software running on its platform, Google’s “software anywhere” approach, to borrow Maynard’s term, looks like the winning strategy going forward, because it puts the user first, not the vendor.It’s The Data, StupidActually, that’s not quite right. The Google approach is really about putting data first. Intriguingly, there’s no reason that Microsoft can’t do this, too. While Microsoft gets a fair amount of abuse for its Internet business, it has a range of services like Hotmail, XBox Live and more that run at dramatic scales and understand the importance of running beyond any single device.Microsoft’s new mantra is “devices and services,” which leaves room for embracing services that live above the level of any single device. But with the purchase of Nokia’s phone business, there’s a real risk that Microsoft will stitch together software, hardware and services in a tightly integrated way, developing an exceptional experience… that virtually no one will ever see. It may also prove to be a way to protect the Windows business, as Maynard argues, which locks Microsoft into an old way of thinking.Not that Google doesn’t do similar things. As one inside observer reminded me, to use Android under the Android brand, you must sign the Open Handset Alliance contract that binds you to Google’s services. This is why Amazon took the Android code but not the brand name for their Kindle devices.The path forward for Microsoft, according to Maynard, “should be built on making information work for the people,” with “information accessible, actionable, and relevant for both consumer and enterprise users (for in fact most people are both).” That last part is critical: Microsoft still owns the enterprise, and also has significant traction in consumer.If Microsoft could build services that span a person’s work and personal lives, without robust preferences for any particular hardware (or OS), Microsoft could win. And win big.last_img read more

India miss lifting medal by a whisker

first_imgAustralia got another gold medal in its kitty thanks to Simplice Ribouem, who lifted a total of 333kg to win the gold medal in the 85kg men’s weightlifting competition at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. India’s Chandrakant Dadu Mali came very close to winning a medal but missed his last chance to lift 182kg in the clean- and- jerk. Mali finished fourth with a total of 325kg (145+ 180), tied with Mathieu Marineau, but lost out due to being 410 grams heavier than the Canadian.Ribouem was impressive from the very first round of the snatch category. He first lifted 145kg before successfully hoisting 150 in his second snatch attempt. In cleanand- jerk, he progressed from 181 to 183 before failing with a 194kg attempt.New Zealand’s Richard Patterson finished a close second, ending up with 331kg. However, if he his final clean- and- jerk attempt of 189kg had been successful, he could have picked up the gold as well.Earlier, Christine Girard of Canada showcased her skills, creating a new Games record en route the gold with a total lift of 235kg in the women’s 69kg event.Christine completed each and every attempt she made in snatch, successfully lifting 97, 101 and 105kg. She then lifted 126 and 130 in clean- and- jerk before failing to lift 133kg in her final effort.Janet Marie Georges of Seychelles won the silver with a total of 216kg while Nigeria’s Itohan Ebireguesele won the bronze after lifting 215kg. Australian favourite Belinda van Tienen finished sixth in the event. There were no participants from India in this category.advertisementlast_img read more

The Biggest Surprises Of WildCard Weekend

The Packers’ ground game delivered against Washington. For all the pregame chatter about Green Bay’s offensive struggles of late, the Pack ranked 10th in rushing efficiency during the regular season, closing the year with 100 or more yards in three of its final four games. Helping matters, Washington was the 11th-worst rushing D in football by DVOA. Sure enough, after 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground, Green Bay had run its way into the divisional round. Minnesota’s run defense stuffed Seattle. The Seahawks get a little leeway here because they were playing on the road, in frigid conditions, with neither Thomas Rawls nor Marshawn Lynch. But they also had the NFL’s fourth-best rushing DVOA during the regular season — with a lot of the way paved by their offensive line — and they were facing a Vikings team that ranked 18th in rush defense. So it was extremely unlikely that they’d be held to 3.5 yards per carry and -5.9 expected points on the ground Sunday. The Chiefs destroyed Houston on special teams. Special teams play is notoriously difficult to predict — and that’s at the season level, let alone in a single game. So although the league-worst Texans specialists were facing the seventh-ranked Chiefs, that should have granted only a razor-thin edge to KC. Instead, Kansas City’s special teams were worth almost a full touchdown by EPA on Saturday, giving KC the 18th-best playoff special teams performance of the past decade. For all the effort that’s gone into developing sophisticated statistical measurements of football, it remains a highly unpredictable sport. As my buddy Chase Stuart once wrote about the NFL, “we don’t know anything and we never will.” And yet, while we may not know anything for certain, we’ve learned enough that from week to week, we can make sense of some of the chaos (though not all).With that in mind, let’s take a look at what transpired over wild-card weekend. How much did it differ from what the advanced stats would have predicted before the game? Some outcomes were easy to see coming; others illustrated just how little we can predict about a single NFL game.What the stats saw comingThe Chiefs ran the ball all over the Texans. KC came into its game against Houston with the league’s top rushing attack according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, and the Texans boasted a decent but not great rushing D during the regular season. So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that the Chiefs ran for 141 yards during their 30-0 annihilation of the Texans. KC’s passing game was good, not great. As well as Kansas City played in other phases of the game, its passing attack was not the most crucial element of its win. Alex Smith averaged 5.9 adjusted net yards per attempt against a team that allowed 5.4 during the regular season, so the Chiefs pretty much passed to expectations, despite the lopsided win. Cincinnati’s special teams played well. The Bengals lost in excruciating fashion, but you can’t blame the special teams, which outplayed their Steeler counterparts by 1.2 expected points added (EPA) in the game. During the regular season, Cincy ranked ninth in special teams DVOA while Pittsburgh was dead-average — so in at least one regard, the game played out exactly as expected.The biggest surprisesHouston’s passing was horrific. The Texans ranked 22nd in passing DVOA during the regular season and the Chiefs had the NFL’s fifth-best defense against the pass, so this matchup looked lopsided before the opening toss. But Houston’s quarterback was Brian Hoyer, who had more passing success than the other three QBs the team used during the regular season. The hope was that the Texans would outplay their regular-season numbers; instead, Hoyer had the fourth-worst passing game in postseason history, an outcome no metric could have predicted. Cincinnati’s passing game struggled badly. This comes with an injury-related asterisk as well: Cincinnati had the league’s best passing offense during the regular season, but most of that was done before quarterback Andy Dalton was injured. However, backup QB AJ McCarron had been doing a reasonable impersonation of Dalton down the regular-season stretch, and on Saturday, he was going up against an average Steeler pass D. If McCarron hadn’t helped Cincinnati post the 34th-worst playoff passing game of the past decade by EPA, Cincinnati’s defense wouldn’t have been put in a position to hold a 1-point lead on the game’s fateful final drive.One final note: These unlikely performances are also the most valuable. Of the 10 cases this weekend where a team added 5 or more expected points in a single phase of the game, all had less than a 30 percent probability of happening based on the teams’ regular-season numbers. Eight had a 15 percent chance or less of occurring; four had a 10 percent probability or less. Some of this can be attributed to randomness and game-to-game volatility, and some is due to individual matchups and planning.In other words, the performances that fuel victory are often also the toughest to see coming. And with the playoff field’s Super Bowl odds becoming more tightly bunched than ever this weekend, don’t expect that to change anytime soon.Read more: After Wild-Card Weekend, There Is No Super Bowl Favorite read more