Corey Parker

Corey Parker

Monday, 24 April 2017 16:51

Is it time to break up Google?

In just 10 years, the world’s five largest companies by market capitalization have all changed, save for one: Microsoft. Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Citigroup and Shell Oil are out and Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon and Facebook have taken their place.

They’re all tech companies, and each dominates its corner of the industry: Google has an 88 percent market share in search advertising, Facebook (and its subsidiaries Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger) owns 77 percent of mobile social traffic and Amazon has a 74 percent share in the e-book market. In classic economic terms, all three are monopolies.

We have been transported back to the early 20th century, when arguments about “the curse of bigness” were advanced by President Woodrow Wilson’s counselor, Louis Brandeis, before Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court. Brandeis wanted to eliminate monopolies, because (in the words of his biographer Melvin Urofsky) “in a democratic society the existence of large centers of private power is dangerous to the continuing vitality of a free people.” We need look no further than the conduct of the largest banks in the 2008 financial crisis or the role that Facebook and Google play in the “fake news” business to know that Brandeis was right.


While Brandeis generally opposed regulation — which, he worried, inevitably led to the corruption of the regulator — and instead advocated breaking up “bigness,” he made an exception for “natural” monopolies, like telephone, water and power companies and railroads, where it made sense to have one or a few companies in control of an industry.

Could it be that these companies — and Google in particular — have become natural monopolies by supplying an entire market’s demand for a service, at a price lower than what would be offered by two competing firms? And if so, is it time to regulate them like public utilities?

Consider a historical analogy: the early days of telecommunications.

In 1895 a photograph of the business district of a large city might have shown 20 phone wires attached to most buildings. Each wire was owned by a different phone company, and none of them worked with the others. Without network effects, the networks themselves were almost useless.

The solution was for a single company, American Telephone and Telegraph, to consolidate the industry by buying up all the small operators and creating a single network — a natural monopoly. The government permitted it, but then regulated this monopoly through the Federal Communications Commission.

AT&T (also known as the Bell System) had its rates regulated, and was required to spend a fixed percentage of its profits on research and development. In 1925 AT&T set up Bell Labs as a separate subsidiary with the mandate to develop the next generation of communications technology, but also to do basic research in physics and other sciences. Over the next 50 years, the basics of the digital age — the transistor, the microchip, the solar cell, the microwave, the laser, cellular telephony — all came out of Bell Labs, along with eight Nobel Prizes.


In a 1956 consent decree in which the Justice Department allowed AT&T to maintain its phone monopoly, the government extracted a huge concession: All past patents were licensed (to any American company) royalty-free, and all future patents were to be licensed for a small fee. These licenses led to the creation of Texas Instruments, Motorola, Fairchild Semiconductor and many other start-ups.

True, the internet never had the same problems of interoperability. And Google’s route to dominance is different from the Bell System’s. Nevertheless it still has all of the characteristics of a public utility.

We are going to have to decide fairly soon whether Google, Facebook and Amazon are the kinds of natural monopolies that need to be regulated, or whether we allow the status quo to continue, pretending that unfettered monoliths don’t inflict damage on our privacy and democracy.

It is impossible to deny that Facebook, Google and Amazon have stymied innovation on a broad scale. To begin with, the platforms of Google and Facebook are the point of access to all media for the majority of Americans. While profits at Google, Facebook and Amazon have soared, revenues in media businesses like newspaper publishing or the music business have, since 2001, fallen by 70 percent.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, newspaper publishers lost over half their employees between 2001 and 2016. Billions of dollars have been reallocated from creators of content to owners of monopoly platforms. All content creators dependent on advertising must negotiate with Google or Facebook as aggregator, the sole lifeline between themselves and the vast internet cloud.

It’s not just newspapers that are hurting. In 2015 two Obama economic advisers, Peter Orszag and Jason Furman, published a paper arguing that the rise in “supernormal returns on capital” at firms with limited competition is leading to a rise in economic inequality. The M.I.T. economists Scott Stern and Jorge Guzman explained that in the presence of these giant firms, “it has become increasingly advantageous to be an incumbent, and less advantageous to be a new entrant.”

There are a few obvious regulations to start with. Monopoly is made by acquisition — Google buying AdMob and DoubleClick, Facebook buying Instagram and WhatsApp, Amazon buying, to name just a few, Audible, Twitch, Zappos and Alexa. At a minimum, these companies should not be allowed to acquire other major firms, like Spotify or Snapchat.

The second alternative is to regulate a company like Google as a public utility, requiring it to license out patents, for a nominal fee, for its search algorithms, advertising exchanges and other key innovations.

The third alternative is to remove the “safe harbor” clause in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allows companies like Facebook and Google’s YouTube to free ride on the content produced by others. The reason there are 40,000 Islamic State videos on YouTube, many with ads that yield revenue for those who posted them, is that YouTube does not have to take responsibility for the content on its network. Facebook, Google and Twitter claim that policing their networks would be too onerous. But that’s preposterous: They already police their networks for pornography, and quite well.

Removing the safe harbor provision would also force social networks to pay for the content posted on their sites. A simple example: One million downloads of a song on iTunes would yield the performer and his record label about $900,000. One million streams of that same song on YouTube would earn them about $900.


I’m under no delusion that, with libertarian tech moguls like Peter Thiel in President Trump’s inner circle, antitrust regulation of the internet monopolies will be a priority. Ultimately we may have to wait four years, at which time the monopolies will be so dominant that the only remedy will be to break them up. Force Google to sell DoubleClick. Force Facebook to sell WhatsApp and Instagram.

Woodrow Wilson was right when he said in 1913, “If monopoly persists, monopoly will always sit at the helm of the government.” We ignore his words at our peril.

Jonathan Taplin is the director emeritus of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Innovation Lab and the author of “Move Fast and Break Things: How Google, Facebook and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy.”

Source : nytimes.com

The world runs on data. Businesses are inundated by it. From information received from mobile phones, sensor networks and Internet of Things-enabled devices, industries have a world of information at their fingertips. But making sense of all this data is no easy endeavour.

According to research firm IDC, companies spent over $20 billion in big data technology and services in 2015. Those same companies are also expanding the number of data types and sources they analyze. But what is big data anyway? We break down the concept and answer some questions you may be afraid to ask, in partnership with Cisco.


What is it?

In simple terms, “big data” refers to large or complex data sets. This includes unstructured data (typically text-heavy database and IoT information including dates, numbers, and facts) and structured data (easily organized and searchable content such as relational database information).


Regardless of industry sector or vertical, the average organization stores data from a wide range of sources: regular business transactions, IoT devices, email, videos, Internet traffic and even social media. Take manufacturing, for example. Every machine on the factory floor is constantly generating vital data such as production output, equipment health, and inventory levels. All of this makes managing real-time information a challenge.

Big data is a big deal. And while the concept of big data may seem simple, it’s actually a technology phenomenon that has the potential to unlock business value and innovation on a global scale.

And make no mistake, the companies that are able to harness the power of big data via data analytics, preparation, and management tools will be the ones that innovate, thrive, and survive in an increasingly competitive marketplace. But the typical organization still relies on aging and/or outdated virtualization tools and data management systems — making the need for a new way of managing data a strategic concern.

Indeed, as the world of data changes before our eyes, today’s organizations need real-time technology tools that can quickly identify the value in the data to solve critical business problems.


Why does it matter? 


The rise of big data means that the organizations that embark on a process of digital transformation — adopting digital technologies such as analytics tools and services to help manage, streamline and unify data sets into business operations— will be the ones that will be better prepared to make faster business decisions.

This includes the use of advanced tools such as user behaviour or predictive analytics. Employing either of these will help you make data connections more quickly, help you identify business trends, and conduct complex calculations, transactions or simulations to better respond to customer needs and demands.

Understanding big data — and its intrinsic value and potential for future business growth — will help businesses get more data-driven insights, foster better customer experiences and establish stronger internal and external communications and interactions.

Working with an industry leader such as Cisco can help you develop intelligent, integrated, and agile technology environments that help swiftly curate, automate, and manage digital data in real-time. Simply put, taking advantage of big data to analyze both structured and unstructured information, enables companies to extract deeper market value and develop tomorrow’s business insights, today.

Cisco works with leading companies to make sense of big data, helping them prioritize the information that matters to make better business decisions. They help businesses develop analytics strategies to maintain a competitive edge in an increasingly connected, global world. To learn more about how your company can benefit from big data, download this free report.

Source : huffingtonpost.ca

Jeff Bezos says using this phrase can make teams twice as productive

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is a lot more hands-on than you might expect.

Though he oversees the direction of a $433 billion enterprise, he pays very close attention to the inner workings of the company, according to Brad Stone's unofficial biography, "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon" and multiple reports citing company insiders.

Since he makes so many decisions each day, both big picture and detail-oriented, Bezos developed a phrase he says helps him navigate his business more quickly.

It's "disagree and commit," and Bezos says every professional should start using it.

This phrase will save a lot of time," Bezos writes in Amazon's 2017 annual shareholder letter.

Here's how it works: If you feel strongly about an idea, but don't have a group's consensus or full agreement, ask your colleagues to take a chance on you.

"If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there's no consensus," Bezos writes, "it's helpful to say, 'Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?'"


Employees can use this strategy to ask their colleagues or managers to run with an idea they feel strongly about. On the other hand, it can also be used to express hesitance over an idea, but communicate trust in the person executing it.

"I disagree and commit all the time," Bezos says.

In one instance, he says, he disagreed with his team about moving forward with one Amazon Studios original production, worried it wouldn't be interesting enough to viewers or might be too complicated to execute.

But because he trusted them and wanted to save time, he went for it.

He wrote, "I disagree and commit and hope it becomes the most watched thing we've ever made."

Using "disagree and commit" cuts the time it takes teams to make decisions in half, if not more, according to Bezos. It helps curtail long meetings and debates.

It's also a way to be honest and supportive, two traits one top Silicon Valley CEO coach says are crucial to running a great team.

"It's a genuine disagreement of opinion, a candid expression of my view," Bezos says, "a chance for the team to weigh my view, and a quick, sincere commitment to go their way."

 Source : ca.finance.yahoo.com

Thursday, 20 April 2017 13:14

Six Brain Hacks To Learn Anything Faster


Research proves there are ways to learn new skills and concepts with speed and ease.

Whether it’s a new technology, a foreign language, or an advanced skill, staying competitive often means learning new things. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. workers have taken a course or sought additional training to advance their careers, according to a March 2016 study by Pew Research Center. They report that results have included an expanded professional network, new job or different career path.

Being a quick learner can give you an even greater edge. Science proves there are six ways you can learn and retain something faster.


If you imagine that you’ll need to teach someone else the material or task you are trying to grasp, you can speed up your learning and remember more, according to a study done at Washington University in St. Louis. The expectation changes your mind-set so that you engage in more effective approaches to learning than those who simply learn to pass a test, according to John Nestojko, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology and coauthor of the study.

Sleeping between two learning sessions greatly improves retention.

“When teachers prepare to teach, they tend to seek out key points and organize information into a coherent structure,” Nestojko writes. “Our results suggest that students also turn to these types of effective learning strategies when they expect to teach.”


Experts at the Louisiana State University’s Center for Academic Success suggest dedicating 30-50 minutes to learning new material. “Anything less than 30 is just not enough, but anything more than 50 is too much information for your brain to take in at one time,” writes learning strategies graduate assistant Ellen Dunn. Once you’re done, take a five to 10 minute break before you start another session.

Brief, frequent learning sessions are much better than longer, infrequent ones, agrees Neil Starr, a course mentor at Western Governors University, an online nonprofit university where the average student earns a bachelor’s degree in two and a half years.

Changing the way you practice a new motor skill can help you master it faster.

He recommends preparing for micro learning sessions. “Make note cards by hand for the more difficult concepts you are trying to master,” he says. “You never know when you’ll have some in-between time to take advantage of.”


While it’s faster to take notes on a laptop, using a pen and paper will help you learn and comprehend better. Researchers at Princeton University and UCLA found that when students took notes by hand, they listened more actively and were able to identify important concepts. Taking notes on a laptop, however, leads to mindless transcription, as well as an opportunity for distraction, such as email.


“In three studies, we found that students who took notes on laptops performed worse on conceptual questions than students who took notes longhand,” writes coauthor and Princeton University psychology professor Pam Mueller. “We show that whereas taking more notes can be beneficial, laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”


While it sounds counterintuitive, you can learn faster when you practice distributed learning, or “spacing.” In an interview with The New York Times, Benedict Carey, author of How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens, says learning is like watering a lawn. “You can water a lawn once a week for 90 minutes or three times a week for 30 minutes,” he said. “Spacing out the watering during the week will keep the lawn greener over time.”

To retain material, Carey said it’s best to review the information one to two days after first studying it. “One theory is that the brain actually pays less attention during short learning intervals,” he said in the interview. “So repeating the information over a longer interval–say a few days or a week later, rather than in rapid succession–sends a stronger signal to the brain that it needs to retain the information.”


Downtime is important when it comes to retaining what you learn, and getting sleep in between study sessions can boost your recall up to six months later, according to new research published in Psychological Science.


In an experiment held in France, participants were taught the Swahili translation for 16 French words in two sessions. Participants in the “wake” group completed the first learning session in the morning and the second session in the evening of the same day, while participants in the “sleep” group completed the first session in the evening, slept, and then completed the second session the following morning. Participants who had slept between sessions recalled about 10 of the 16 words, on average, while those who hadn’t slept recalled only about 7.5 words.

“Our results suggest that interweaving sleep between practice sessions leads to a twofold advantage, reducing the time spent relearning and ensuring a much better long-term retention than practice alone,” writes psychological scientist Stephanie Mazza of the University of Lyon. “Previous research suggested that sleeping after learning is definitely a good strategy, but now we show that sleeping between two learning sessions greatly improves such a strategy.”


When learning a new motor skill, changing the way you practice it can help you master it faster, according to a new study at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In an experiment, participants were asked to learn a computer-based task. Those who used a modified learning technique during their second session performed better than those who repeated the same method.

The findings suggest that reconsolidation–a process in which existing memories are recalled and modified with new knowledge–plays a key role in strengthening motor skills, writes Pablo A. Celnik, senior study author and professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation.


“What we found is if you practice a slightly modified version of a task you want to master,” he writes, “you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row.”

Source : fastcompany.com

Growing up, I was known as the “quiet, nerdy kid”. I didn’t talk much during meals, at school, or social gatherings.

Often, people thought I was anti-social or lacking presentation skills. Some of my friends even had the first impression that I hated them when we first met. Just because I didn’t talk (and with my RBF), they assumed I didn’t want to befriend them.

Or there were times in conversations, I didn’t engage in them and people thought I was silently judging all of them, but in fact, I was thinking and absorbing what everyone had to say.

I’m sure if you are a quiet person, you are under constantly assumed to be shy, impolite, timid, or even arrogant. I feel you. But in reality, most quiet people don’t fit into the assumptions, and the reason for these misconceptions and misunderstandings is because we communicate in a different way.


There’s no right or wrong when it comes to communication, and I think it’s time to let everyone know how we act and think as quiet people.

We are quiet in person, talkative in mind.

When we don’t say anything, it doesn’t mean our minds are blank.

Stephen Hawking once said, “Quiet people have the loudest minds.” It’s true, we store a lot of deep thoughts in our minds, but we keep our sarcastic comments and jokes in our brains as well.

We are usually thinkers, and often over-thinkers. We create conversations in our heads to help us think, plan, evaluate, and execute our ideas before saying it out loud or diving into actions.

We gain information through different means.

While some people learn about others through interactions and exchanging information in conversations, we like to observe others and everything happening around.

My dad once taught me the art of observation. He thinks you could tell a lot about a person only through observing their appearances and mannerisms.

Say you meet someone new. What that person is wearing, their body language, and eye contact can give you a rough idea of who that person is.


Of course, sometimes simply by observation is not enough, quiet people do start conversations when we are interested to know more about a certain person.

We are not necessarily shy.

The general norm is the more you speak, the more confident you sound. And sometimes, people categorize all quiet people as lacking confidence or scared to present themselves. But for some quiet people, we are not afraid of the spotlight, and we are sociable too. Speaking to us is a preference rather than a must-do action in social situations. We don’t mind to share our ideas, thoughts, and experiences.

We don’t hate you because we are quiet.

The easiest way to tell the other person you are interested in develop a relationship is definitely through speaking. But just because we aren’t as talkative as others, we don’t mean to be rude or cold. There are still many ways and channels to express our affection to our loved ones.

Everyone has a different idea on what it means to be “neutral”. Some people believe they must be smiling and asking “how are you” to convey a message of “we’re good”. But for others, like quiet people, we believe indicating “everyone’s fine as when it was one hour ago” is to do nothing. In this sense, quiet people are deemed as cold or mean, because we express the same message differently.

We take speaking seriously.

We believe we need to think carefully before we say anything, because there are way too many times where something is said at the wrong time, wrong place, and to the wrong person.And don’t get me wrong, I am not saying talkative people don’t think before they speak. I enjoy listening to talkative people share their stories and fill the room with their presence. Just we hold different thoughts about what speaking should mean.

It’s not about helping a quiet person, but understanding.

From time to time, others want to “help” me (with a good intention) in sharing sessions. They think I have stage fright, or I can’t come up with things to say, or I have problem disclosing information about myself. To some quiet people, these assumptions might be true, but for me, I don’t find expressing myself difficult.I hope this article gives you more insight to quiet people and I’m sure you gain more perspective on how yourself or others think!
Source: lifehack.org

Facebook said it has started weeding out bogus accounts by watching for suspicious behavior such as repetitive posts or torrents of messages.

The security improvement was described as being part of a broader effort to rid the leading social network of hoaxes, misinformation, and fake news by making sure people are who they claim to be.

"We've found that when people represent themselves on Facebook the same way they do in real life, they act responsibly," Shabnam Shaik of the Facebook protect and care team said in a blog post.

"Fake accounts don't follow this pattern, and are closely related to the creation and spread of spam."


Accounts suspected of being bogus are suspended and holders asked to verify identifies, which scammers typically don't do, according to the California-based social network.

In France, the new tactic has already resulted in Facebook taking action against 30,000 accounts believed to be fakes, Shaik said.

"We've made improvements to recognize these inauthentic accounts more easily by identifying patterns of activity -- without assessing the content itself," Shaik said.

"With these changes, we expect we will also reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts."

Under pressure to stymie the spread of fake news, Facebook has taken a series of steps including making it easier to report such posts and harder to make money from them.

Facebook also modified its displays of trending topics to find stories faster, capture a broader range of news, and help ensure that trends reflect real world events being covered by multiple news outlets.

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has sought to deflect criticism that the huge social network may have been used to fuel the spread of misinformation that affected the 2016 US presidential race.

Facebook last week unleashed a new weapon in the war against "revenge porn" at the social network as well as the messaging services Messenger and Instagram.

When intimate images shared on Facebook without permission are reported, confirmed and removed, the company will use photo-matching technology to prevent copies from being shared again on its platform.

Source : digitaljournal.com

IQ plays a role in how successful we become. But working on projects close to the heart and knuckling down to see them through may be more important.

IQ tests reflect some parts of this, but don’t always predict success

Earlier this year, 11-year-old Kashmea Wahi of London, England scored 162 on an IQ test. That’s a perfect score. The results were published by Mensa, a group for highly intelligent people. Wahi is the youngest person ever to get a perfect score on that particular test.

Does her high score mean she will go on to do great things — like Stephen Hawking or Albert Einstein, two of the world’s greatest scientists? Maybe. But maybe not.

IQ, short for intelligence quotient, is a measure of a person’s reasoning ability. In short, it is supposed to gauge how well someone can use information and logic to answer questions or make predictions. IQ tests begin to assess this by measuring short- and long-term memory. They also measure how well people can solve puzzles and recall information they’ve heard — and how quickly.


Every student can learn, no matter how intelligent. But some students struggle in school because of a weakness in one specific area of intelligence. These students often benefit from special education programs. There, they get extra help in the areas where they’re struggling. IQ tests can help teachers figure out which students would benefit from such extra help.

playing chess
Chess is a game of skill and strategy.  Intelligence helps, but so does really caring about it and having the perseverence to slowly build skills in it.

IQ tests also can help identify students who would do well in fast-paced “gifted education” programs. Many colleges and universities also use exams similar to IQ tests to select students. And the U.S. government — including its military — uses IQ tests when choosing who to hire. These tests help predict which people would make good leaders, or be better at certain specific skills.

It’s tempting to read a lot into someone’s IQ score. Most non-experts think intelligence is the reason successful people do so well. Psychologists who study intelligence find this is only partly true. IQ tests can predict how well people will do in particular situations, such as thinking abstractly in science, engineering or art. Or leading teams of people. But there’s more to the story. Extraordinary achievement depends on many things. And those extra categories include ambition, persistence, opportunity, the ability to think clearly — even luck.

Intelligence matters. But not as much as you might think.

Measuring IQ

IQ tests have been around for more than a century. They were originally created in France to help identify students who needed extra help in school.

The U.S. government later used modified versions of these tests during World War I. Leaders in the armed forces knew that letting unqualified people into battle could be dangerous. So they used the tests to help find qualified candidates. The military continues to do that today. The Armed Forces Qualification Test is one of many different IQ tests in use.

IQ tests have many different purposes, notes Joel Schneider. He is a psychologist at Illinois State University in Normal. Some IQ tests have been designed to assess children at specific ages. Some are for adults. And some have been designed for people with particular disabilities.

But any of these tests will tend to work well only for people who share a similar cultural or social upbringing. “In the United States,” for instance, “a person who has no idea who George Washington was probably has lower-than-average intelligence,” Schneider says. “In Japan, not knowing who Washington was reveals very little about the person's intelligence.”

Questions about important historical figures fall into the “knowledge” category of IQ tests. Knowledge-based questions test what a person knows about the world. For example, they might ask whether people know why it’s important to wash their hands before they eat.

test question
Reasoning questions like this one ask test-takers to figure out what would come next in the pattern.
Life of Riley/Wikimedia

IQ tests also ask harder questions to measure someone’s knowledge. What is abstract art? What does it mean to default on a loan? What is the difference between weather and climate? These types of questions test whether someone knows about things that are valued in their culture, Schneider explains.


Such knowledge-based questions measure what scientists call crystallized intelligence. But some categories of IQ tests don’t deal with knowledge at all.

Some deal with memory. Others measure what's called fluid intelligence. That’s a person’s ability to use logic and reason to solve a problem. For example, test-takers might have to figure out what a shape would look like if it were rotated. Fluid intelligence is behind “aha” moments — times when you suddenly connect the dots to see the bigger picture.

Aki Nikolaidis is a neuroscientist, someone who studies structures in the brain. He works at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And he wanted to know what parts of the brain are active during those “aha” episodes.

In a study published earlier this year, he and his team studied 71 adults. The researchers tested the volunteers’ fluid intelligence with a standard IQ test that had been designed for adults. At the same time, they mapped out which areas of test takers’ brains were working hardest. They did this using a brain scan called magnetic resonance spectroscopy, or MRS. It uses magnets to hunt for particular molecules of interest in the brain.

As brain cells work, they gobble up glucose, a simple sugar, and spit out the leftovers. MRS scans let researchers spy those leftovers. That told them which specific areas of people’s brains were working hard and breaking down more glucose.

People who scored higher on fluid intelligence tended to have more glucose leftovers in certain parts of their brains. These areas are on the left side of the brain and toward the front. They’re involved with planning movements, with spatial visualization and with reasoning. All are key aspects of problem solving.

“It’s important to understand how intelligence is related to brain structure and function,” says Nikolaidis. That, he adds, could help scientists develop better ways to boost fluid intelligence.

Personal intelligence

IQ tests “measure a set of skills that are important to society,” notes Scott Barry Kaufman. He’s a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. But, he adds, such tests don’t tell the full story about someone’s potential. One reason: IQ tests favor people who can think on the spot. It’s a skill plenty of capable people lack.


It’s also something Kaufman appreciates as well as anyone.

daydreaming teen
Daydreaming may seem like a waste of time, but research by Scott Barry Kaufman suggests that it’s actually an important part of creative problem-solving.
Jakov Cordina/iStockphoto

As a boy, he needed extra time to process the words he heard. That slowed his learning. His school put him into special education classes, where he stayed until high school. Eventually, an observant teacher suggested he might do well in regular classes. He made the switch and, with hard work, indeed did well.

Kaufman now studies what he calls “personal intelligence.” It’s how people’s interests and natural abilities combine to help them work toward their goals. IQ is one such ability. Self-control is another. Both help people focus their attention when they need to, such as at school.

Psychologists lump together a person’s focused attention, self-control and problem-solving into a skill they call executive function. The brain cells behind executive function are known as the executive control network. This network turns on when someone is taking an IQ test. Many of the same brain areas are involved in fluid intelligence.

But personal intelligence is more than just executive function. It’s tied to personal goals. If people are working toward some goal, they’ll be interested and focused on what they are doing. They might daydream about a project even while not actively working on it. Although daydreaming may seem like a waste of time to outsiders, it can have major benefits for the person doing it.

When engaged in some task, such as learning, people want to keep at it, Kaufman explains. That means they will push forward, long after they might otherwise have been expected to give up. Engagement also lets a person switch between focused attention and mind wandering.


That daydreaming state can be an important part of intelligence. It is often while the mind is “wandering” that sudden insights or hunches emerge about how something works.

brain scan
People doing a creative thinking task use two different brain networks at the same time, suggesting that creativity is a unique state of mind.
Scott Barry Kaufman/Nature

While daydreaming, a so-called default mode network within the brain kicks into action. Its nerve cells are active when the brain is at rest. For a long time, psychologists thought the default mode network was active only when the executive control network rested. In other words, you could not focus on an activity and daydream at the same time.

To see if that was really true, last year Kaufman teamed up with researchers at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro and at the University of Graz in Austria. They scanned the brains of volunteers using functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI. This tool uses a strong magnetic field to record brain activity.

As they scanned the brains of 25 college students, the researchers asked the students to think of as many creative uses as they could for everyday objects. And as students were being as creative as possible, parts of both the default mode network and the executive control network lit up. The two systems weren’t at odds with each other. Rather, Kaufman suspects, the two networks work together to make creativity possible.

“Creativity seems to be a unique state of consciousness,” Kaufman now says. And he thinks it is essential for problem-solving

Turning potential into achievement

Just being intelligent doesn’t mean someone will be successful. And just because someone is less intelligent doesn’t mean that person will fail. That’s one take-home message from the work of people like Angela Duckworth.

studying teen
Scientists find that students with more grit study harder than their peers and earn higher grades.

She works at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Like many other psychologists, Duckworth wondered what makes one person more successful than another. In 2007, she interviewed people from all walks of life. She asked each what they thought made someone successful. Most people believed intelligence and talent were important. But smart people don’t always live up to their potential.

When Duckworth dug deeper, she found that the people who performed best — those who were promoted over and over, or made a lot of money — shared a trait independent of intelligence. They had what she now calls grit. Grit has two parts: passion and perseverance. Passion points to a lasting interest in something. People who persevere work through challenges to finish a project.

Duckworth developed a set of questions to assess passion and perseverance. She calls it her “grit scale.”

In one study of people 25 and older, she found that as people age, they become more likely to stick with a project. She also found that grit increases with education. People who had finished college scored higher on the grit scale than did people who quit before graduation. People who went to graduate school after college scored even higher.

She then did another study with college students. Duckworth wanted to see how intelligence and grit affected performance in school. So she compared scores on college-entrance exams (like the SAT), which estimate IQ, to school grades and someone’s score on the grit scale. Students with higher grades tended to have more grit. That’s not surprising. Getting good grades takes both smarts and hard work. But Duckworth also found that intelligence and grit don’t always go hand in hand. On average, students with higher exam scores tended to be less gritty than those who scored lower.


But some people counter that this grit may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Among those people is Marcus Credé. He’s a psychologist at Iowa State University in Ames. He recently pooled the results of 88 studies on grit. Together, those studies involved nearly 67,000 people. And grit did not predict success, Credé found.

spelling bee
Students who perform best in the National Spelling Bee are those with grit. Their passion, drive, and persistance pay off and help them succeed against less "gritty" competitors.
Scripps National Spelling Bee/Flickr

However, he thinks grit is very similar to conscientiousness. That someone’s ability to set goals, work toward them and think things through before acting. It’s a basic personality trait, Credé notes — not something that can be changed.

“Study habits and skills, test anxiety and class attendance are far more strongly related to performance than grit,” Credé concludes. “We can teach [students] how to study effectively. We can help them with their test anxiety,” he adds. “I’m not sure we can do that with grit.”

In the end, hard work can be just as important to success as IQ. “It's okay to struggle and go through setbacks,” Kaufman says. It might not be easy. But over the long haul, toughing it out can lead to great accomplishments.

Power Words

(for more about Power Words, click here)

anxiety       (adj. anxious) A nervous or almost fearful reaction to events causing excessive uneasiness and apprehension. People with anxiety may even develop panic attacks.

brain scan    The use of an imaging technology, typically using X rays or a magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI) machine, to view structures inside the brain. With MRI technology — especially the type known as functional MRI (or fMRI) — the activity of different brain regions can be viewed during an event, such as viewing pictures, computing sums or listening to music.

crystallized intelligence    How many things a person knows, such as facts or definitions of words.

culture    (in social science) The sum total of typical behaviors and social practices of a related group of people (such as a tribe or nation). Their culture includes their beliefs, values, and the symbols that they accept and or use. It’s passed on from generation to generation through learning. Once thought to be exclusive to humans, scientists have recognized signs of culture in several other animal species, such as dolphins and primates.

default mode network    An area of the brain where nerve cells rev up their activity at those times when someone is not focused on a specific task. These cells work behind the scenes when someone is daydreaming, sleeping or otherwise at rest.

executive control network    A network of brain areas where nerve cells become active when someone is focusing their attention on a specific task. These cells are involved with focused attention, self-control and problem-solving.

executive function    The term that includes all of the brain functions needed for self-regulation, self-control and problem-solving. Executive function requires good working memory to hold several pieces of information in the brain at once. It also includes multi-tasking, prioritizing, reasoning, focus, concentration, goal setting and controlling impulses.

fluid intelligence    A measure of how good a person is at solving complex problems that don’t depend on prior information.

fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging)    A special type of machine used to study brain activity. It uses a strong magnetic field to monitor blood flow in the brain. Tracking the movement of blood can tell researchers which brain regions are active. (See also, MRI or magnetic resonance imaging)

glucose    A simple sugar that is an important energy source in living organisms. It is half of the molecule that makes up table sugar (also known as sucrose).

graduate school    Programs at a university that offer advanced degrees, such as a Master’s or PhD degree. It’s called graduate school because it is started only after someone has already graduated from college (usually with a four-year degree).


grit  Passion and perseverance for long-term goals.

insight    The ability to gain an accurate and deep understanding of a situation just by thinking about it, instead of working out a solution through experimentation.

intelligence    The ability to collect and apply knowledge and skills.

IQ, or intelligence quotient    A number representing a person’s reasoning ability. It’s determined by dividing a person’s score on a special test by his or her age, then multiplying by 100.

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)    An imaging technique to visualize soft, internal organs, like the brain, muscles, heart and cancerous tumors. MRI uses strong magnetic fields to record the activity of individual atoms. 

magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)    An imaging technique to visualize specific molecules in the brain. MRS uses two sets of magnets to detect the presence of individual atoms within molecules of interest.

neuron or nerve cell    Any of the impulse-conducting cells that make up the brain, spinal column and nervous system. These specialized cells transmit information to other neurons in the form of electrical signals.

psychology    (adj. psychological) The study of the human mind, especially in relation to actions and behavior. To do this, some perform research using animals. Scientists and mental-health professionals who work in this field are known as psychologists.

special education    Classes that are geared toward helping students who have trouble learning in a traditional classroom. Teachers are trained to help students who have disabilities, behavior disorders, or vision/hearing impairments.
Readability Score: 7.5


Source : sciencenewsforstudents.org



Getting a new job, recovering from an abusive relationship, engaging in new kinds of activism, moving to a different countrythese are all examples of reasons one might decide to start using Facebook in a more private way. While it is relatively straightforward to change your social media use moving forward, it can be more complicated to adjust all the posts, photos, and videos you may have accumulated on your profile in the past. Individually changing the privacy settings for everything you have posted in the past can be impractical, particularly for very active users or those who have been using Facebook for a long time.

The good news is that Facebook offers a one-click privacy setting to retroactively change all your past posts to be visible to your friends only. With this tool, content on your timeline that you’ve shared to be visible to Friends of Friends or Public will change to be visible by Friends only. And the change will be “sticky”it cannot be reversed in one click, and would be very difficult to accidentally undo.


Watch this video for a step-by-step tutorial to change this setting and make your posts more private.

Privacy info. This embed will serve content from youtube.com

Keep in mind that, if you tagged someone else in a past post, that post will still be visible to them and to whatever audience they include in posts they are tagged in. And, if you shared a past post with a “custom” audience (like “Friends Except Acquaintances” or “Close Friends”), this setting won’t apply

Finally, this setting can only change the audience for posts that you have shared. When others tag you in their posts, then they control the audience. So share this blog post and video with your friends and encourage them to change their settings, because privacy works best when we work together.

Source : eff.org

Monday, 17 April 2017 13:46

Google Maps Tricks You Didn’t Know

Learn how to use hard-to-find features of Google Maps with these tips and tricks to make your next commute easier.

Since its establishment in 2005, Google Maps has evolved remarkably with new features being made every day to improve our commutes. With over a billion users each month, the app has proved to be reliable in providing everything from satellite imagery to real-time traffic conditions. Many users, however, have not fully explored this digital innovation and are missing out on many of its great features. Here are a few of the Google Maps tricks that will make your next drive one to remember.

Street View

This is one of the least used functions in Google Maps. Many people have heard of it but do not know how they can activate it while on transit. You can virtually tour the location you want to visit before actually going there. So how do you activate it on your phone? First you need to type in the location you want to look up. Secondly, hold your finger onto the dropped pin on the map, then bring up the information by clicking on the address pop up. You should now see an image written Street View. Tap on that and you will be able to view the location you entered.


Control Your Map Hands-Free

If you have had problems trying to type in an address while driving, here is one for you. Simply go to your Google Maps settings, tap on “navigation” and click on “Ok Google detection”, which will automatically activate hands free voice commands. Ensure you turn on the “while driving” toggle too which is right above. You can now automatically navigate by simply saying “Okay Google, find a nail salon” or even better say “Okay Google, play some music”.

Avoid Toll Roads

Everyone hates toll roads and if you can avoid them why not. Using your Google Maps, search for your destination. Before navigating, tap the information button on the upper right side of your screen. From the options given, select “Route Options” then click on the “Avoid Tolls” check box. This automatically reroutes you to roads that do not have toll fees.

Send Directions from Your Computer to Your Phone

Now this is one convenient function that is helpful to mainly those who are always on their computers. As long as both your mobile device and computer have the same Google account, you can go ahead and search for the location in the Google Maps web. Once you identify it you will see an option to “Send directions to your phone”. Click on it and a drop down menu will appear showing all the contacts synced with the account including your email. You can now choose to send the directions to the contact of your choice.

Mark All Important Addresses

Instead of always typing in addresses of places you go to often why not simply mark them on your map? You can do this easily by going to the Google Maps Menu and select “Your places”, then tap on “Change icon” and you can now choose different labels for your locations. Aside from convenience this also allows Google Maps to inform you about the traffic situation on the roads before starting your drive.

Save Maps for Offline Use

If you have ever gone on a road trip and suddenly lost your cell connection because of bad service, then you know the importance of offline maps. Tap on the button on the upper left side of you Google Maps screen and select “Offline areas”. A plus button will appear on the lower right corner of your screen. Click on it and drag the map to the area you want to download. You can then choose where you want the map to be stored in your phone.

Order Ride Sharing Services

This is one of the most recent improvements that was added to the digital map and it uses applications such as Uber and Lyft to give commuters options of getting rides. Simply type in the address of your destination and you will see a list of commute options pop up at the top of your screen. Scroll to the left past the “Bus” and “Train” icons until you see a stick figure hailing a car. Click on it and choose the ride sharing app that you would like


You do not need to be tech savvy to do all these tricks. All you need is the map and your fingers. I am sure these Google Maps tips and tricks have now given you an insight on how to use Google Maps more extensively. Now go and make the best use of them!

Source : yourstory.com

As with so many startup origin stories, Simple Contacts’ was conceived because one of its founders was annoyed.

The problem was simple. It was 2015, and Joel Wishkovsky had run out of contact lenses. He didn’t have time to physically go to the doctor, so he filmed himself doing a visual acuity test at his local drugstore, sent it to an ophthalmologist friend, and got a prescription a few minutes later. It was easy and eye-opening: Most of his annual visits could probably be done this way.

Then an entrepreneur-in-residence at the startup accelerator Techstars, Wishkovsky was uniquely positioned to turn an every-day annoyance into a well-funded business opportunity: Simple Contacts launched later that year, and quickly raised $2 million. Today, the company announced it has added another $8 million in Series A funding. Goodwater Capital led the round, and was joined by Justin Kan, Notation Capital, Autonomous Ventures, and Steven Cohen.


The startup's app includes a vision test, in which you read letters from their phone from a distance of 10 feet while wearing your contacts (this is filmed, to ensure instructions are followed), followed by an exam, in which the phone’s camera is positioned to check the eye for any obvious signs of infection or damage. Both videos are sent to an ophthalmologist and, if your vision remains unchanged and your eyes look healthy, your contact lenses prescription is reissued. Wishkovsky is careful to stress that this isn’t an eye exam. If your prescription has changed, you'll still need to schedule an in-person appointment. Likewise, the service won’t renew prescriptions that are more than four-years-old, so you can't opt out of IRL doctor's visits all together.

Like Uber, Lyft, and Instacart, a large part of Simple Contacts’ marketing push centers around convenience. But unlike these companies, its service is substantially cheaper than the traditional option: Simple Contacts’ vision test costs $10, while an ophthalmologist appointment can cost upwards of $100.


Making it easier to order contacts is a cool, if leaves-in-the-pool kind of problem to solve. But Wishkovsky’s ambitions are bigger. When he looks at the health care system, he sees multiple areas—including birth control and acne medication prescriptions—that unnecessarily require an in-person doctor’s visit. The plan is to use the funds to build up the contact lens business, and then “go into other verticals.”

Source : fortune.com

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