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Wednesday, 13 September


Fresh Picks for Fall: 16 New Courses and Specializations Launching on Coursera "IndyWatch Feed Education"

Start fresh this season with new career-relevant content added to the Coursera catalog, including courses and Specializations in areas like software design and architecture, deep learning, and innovation management. Every course is taught by leading instructors from the worlds top universities and leading global companies; Specializations are designed to build your mastery of a particular topic, and include hands-on projects to help you demonstrate that youre ready for the next step in your career.

The following new courses and Specializations are now open for enrollment:

Data Science

Computer Science


Rethinking Education for 21st Century Careers "IndyWatch Feed Education"

by Lauren Cuzzaniti, Business Development at  Coursera

College can be an incredibly valuable experience. At its best, college is a place that teaches you to work well with others, challenges you to think critically, and gives you the skills you need to embark on a career.  Unfortunately, not all college graduates have that experience.   And while its universally recognized that college is no longer the ticket to a secure future it once was the proportion of college graduates has tripled since 1970 (11% to 33.4%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau)what is troubling is that not only are students not getting the job outcomes, but they also are not getting the skills they should from higher education.

In todays world, critical thinking may be one of the most important skills to ensure long term career success given the need to continually adapt to changing job market needs.  Yet after tracking thousands of college students across 24 universities, sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa found that even after 4 years of study, 36% of students did not significantly improve their critical thinking. Employers agree with this deficiency with only 26% feeling their recent college graduate hires are well prepared in critical thinking. They also found them lacking in a host of other skills from working with numbers to solving complex problems.

As a result, new grads are finding it harder to find quality jobs with many winding up in jobs that do not require college degrees. Meeting these harsh realities in the workplace led only 44% of college seniors to believe that their college experience had been very helpful in preparing for a career, according to McGraw-Hill Educations 2017 Workforce Readiness Survey.

However, while returns in actual skills gained from college are not there for everyone, an increasing number of employers are requiring college degrees for jobs that traditionally never required one. Since there are many more college graduates, employers are using a college degree as an additional way to filter candidates even if the skills they are looking for are not taught in a traditional bachelors degree.

The result is that the nearly of the U.S. population without a bachelors degree is being shut out of more and more high quality careers, and according to Harvard GSEs Pathways to Prosperity report, roughly half of all...


Why you shouldnt unlock your phone with your face "IndyWatch Feed Education"

Photo credit: Engaget

Today Apple announced its new FaceID technology. Its a new way to unlock your phone through facial recognition. All you have to do is look at your phone and it will recognize you and unlock itself.

At time of writing, nobody outside of Apple has tested the security of FaceID. So this article is about the security of facial recognition, and other forms of biometric identification in general.

Historically, biometric identification has been insecure.

Cameras can be tricked.

Voices can be recorded.

Fingerprints can be lifted.

And in many countriesincluding the USthe police can legally force you to use your fingerprint to unlock your phone. So they can most certainly point your phone at your face and unlock it against your will.

If you value the security of your datayour email, social media accounts, family photos, the history of every place youve ever been with your phonethen I recommend against using biometric identification.

Instead, use a passcode to unlock your phone.

It hurts a lot more to change your face than to change your passcode

Heres a great scene from the 2007 movie The Bourne Ultimatum where Matt Damons character defeats 2-factor biometric identification on a safe:

Even though this is a Hollywood movie from 10 years ago, it illustrates some of the problems inherent in biometric identification.

How many pictures of your face are out there? Could those images be stitched together and 3D-modeled to the degree of accuracy necessary to defeat FaceID, with its infrared lights and dot projection system?

Heres the full FaceID demo, if youre curious how it works:



Is the tide turning? A workshop template to help you be involved "IndyWatch Feed Education"


Suggested session format for discussion workshops based on the paper:
Is the tide turning? Policy proposals for youth work: A discussion paper.
In Defence of Youth Work, Summer 2017

In Defence of Youth Work created the Is the Tide Turning? discussion paper in summer 2017 in order to encourage discussion around the potential revival of open youth work, particularly in the aftermath of the 2017 General Election.

We would like to encourage individuals and groups who read the paper to organise discussion workshops based on the paper to discuss its key tenets. We hope to gather feedback from these events to feed into our analysis of the responses to the paper and the way forward for open youth work. We will collate and analyse this feedback and share it widely including at our 2018 annual conference.

The session format suggestions below are intended as a template for those who want some guidance on how they might run such a workshop. Please dont see them as a rigid formula but do organise your workshops and gather evidence in any form to send back to us.

We imagine that the workshops will be centred around the three questions that are contained within the summary (and perhaps also any sub-questions that emerge in initial discussions):

  • Should local authority youth services be reopened, or are there different ways that state-supported youth work can be organised?
  • ...


Creating serverless Slack commands in minutes with Go & Up "IndyWatch Feed Education"

This post walks through the creation of a serverless Slack command written in Golang, and deployed to AWS Lambda in seconds with Up.

Youll be creating a /time command used check how long a website takes to respond. Up uses your own AWS account. You can host a large number of custom apps for free while still utilizing the AWS free tier (1 million requests/m).

Check out the installation instructions as well if youre new to Up.

Registering the Slack command

The first step is to create a Slack app, allowing you to register commands, among other things.

Once created, click Slash commands in the menu on the left, and register the /time command. Youll need to keep this page open for a minute since we need a Request URL so Slack knows where to send requests.

Creating the Slack command

In your projects directory create a file named up.json. Make sure to replace PROFILE with your AWS profile name (read more).

"name": "slack-cmd-test",
"profile": "PROFILE"

Now we need a little HTTP server to process the Slack command POST request. Create a main.go file with the following net/http server.

Deploy it with up .

NOTE : The first deploy may take roughly 60s to set up resources.

Now you need to grab the URL and paste it into the Slack command page so Slack knows where to send requests. Copy the commands URL to the clipboard using:

$ up url -c
Copied to the clipboard!

Paste it in the Request URL field, then youre good to give it a test run:

With any luck, youll see a Hello World response!

Performing the request

Slack sends a POST request with form inputs, otherwise known as application/x-www-form-urlencoded (a tragically named mime type, turned stan...


Learning Ruby: From Zero to Hero "IndyWatch Feed Education"

Ruby is simple in appearance, but is very complex inside, just like our human body.Matz, creator of the Ruby programming language

Why learn Ruby?

For me, the first reason is that its a beautiful language. Its natural to code and it always expresses my thoughts.

The secondand mainreason is Rails: the same framework that Twitter, Basecamp, Airbnb, Github, and so many companies use.


Ruby is A dynamic, open source programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. It has an elegant syntax that is natural to read and easy to

Lets get started with some basics!


You can think about a variable as a word that stores a value. Simple as that.

In Ruby its easy to define a variable and set a value to it. Imagine you want to store the number 1 in a variable called one. Lets do it!

How simple was that? You just assigned the value 1 to a variable called one.

You can assign a value to whatever variable you want. In the example above, a two variable stores an integer of 2 and some_number stores 10,000.

Besides integers, we can also use booleans (true/false), strings, symbols, float, and other data types.

Conditional Statements: Control Flow

Conditional statements evaluate true or false. If something is true, it executes whats inside the statement. For example:

2 is greater than 1, so the puts code is executed.

This else statement will be executed when the if expression is false:

1 is not greater than 2, s...


The 50 best free online university courses according to data "IndyWatch Feed Education"

Im back with an updated list of the best free online courses of all time. Class Central published the Top 50 list for the first time in July last year. Since then universities and course providers have added a couple of thousand new courses and Class Central users have written thousands of new reviews.

Now there are over 8,000+ massive open online courses from around 750 universities worldwide. This can be daunting to the millions of learners around the world who have never done an online course before.

Thats why we came up with a list of Top 50 Online Courses of All Time based on thousands of reviews written by Class Central users.

In providing a small but well-reviewed list of courses, our hope is that new learners will not be overwhelmed when exploring online courses. Reviews will help new learners figure out if a course is right for them, and whether they will have a great first experience.

Our methodology for creating this list

Class Central has thousands of reviews written by our users, and we were able to sort these courses by the Bayesian average of their ratings.

Then we removed all the courses with less than 20 reviews (the low threshold helps smaller providers to compete on quality) and courses for which we had doubts whether they would be offered again.

If a course has multiple parts, we only included the first part in the Top 50.

The best courses

This top 50 list will be updated regularly as new courses are added and we receive new reviews. Better yet, you can also follow the top 50 on its special collection page (look for the follow top 50 button just below the title). Followers will receive a notification whenever we update the Top 50 courses list.

The Top 50 collection page. Use the Follow button to be notified when the list gets updated.

Oh  and if you feel that a course you took deserved to be on this list but isnt, please find the course on Class Central and write a review for the course.

Class Centrals Top 50 Free Online Courses of All Time

There are a lot of usual suspects in the Top 50. Think of courses like Learning How To Learn, Harvards CS50x, ModPo, and Class Centrals...

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Tuesday, 12 September


How to code a satellite algorithm and cook paella from scratch "IndyWatch Feed Education"

What if I told you that by the end of this article, youd be able to calculate the orbital period of satellites around Earth using their average altitudes and You tuned out already, didnt you?

Okay, how about this: Im going to teach you how to make paella!

True fact: people are far more likely to accept complexity if it comes with the promise of food.

And youll learn how to write a function that does the stuff I mentioned above, just like I did for this freeCodeCamp challenge.

I promise theres an overarching moral lesson that will benefit you every day for the rest of your life. Or, at least, feed you for one night. Lets get started.

The only thing I know about paella is that its an emoticon

Unless youre reading this on a Samsung phone, in which case youre looking at a Korean hotpot.

One of my favorite things about living in the world today is that its totally fine to know next-to-nothing about something. A hundred years ago, you might have gone your whole life not knowing anything more about paella other than that its an emoticon.* But today? You can simply look it up.

*That was a joke.

As with all things in life, when we are unsure, we turn to the Internet. In this case, the entry for paella on Wikipedia, which reads:

Paella is a Valencian rice dish. Paella has ancient roots, but its modern form originated in the mid-19th century near the Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spains national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identifying symbols.
Types of paella include Valencian paella, vegetarian/vegan paella (Spanish: paella de verduras), seafood paella (Spanish: paella de marisco), and mixed paella (Spanish: paella mixta), among many others.Wikipedia

At this point, youre probably full of questions. Do I need to talk to a Valencian? Should I take an online course on the history of Spain? What type of paella should I try to make? What is the common opinion of modern chefs when it comes to paella types?

If you set out to answer all these questions, one thing is certain: youll never end up actually making paella. Youll spend hours upon hours typing questions into search engine...


Want to make the deployment process less scary? Build ChatOps in Slack. "IndyWatch Feed Education"

Photo by Jamison McAndie via Unsplash

We created our deployment ChatOp on Slack. Read on to see how you can do it with your chat service. You can automate your deployment, which saves everyone time and reduces coordination errors (Campfire, Hipchat, and Flowdock are also supported). Weve been using ChatOps in 15+ simultaneous projects within our team.Screenshot of our Slack bots, Chima and Faseng (the names of our resident office cats)

ChatOps is a great way to make the deployment procedure less complex, less black-boxed, and less scary.

I adapted GitHubs use of ChatOps for our deployment with Slack. GitHubs open source chatbot (Hubot) does automating deployment, graphing, monitoring, provisioning, tweeting, and many other things. GitHub even created MySQL database back-up jobs so they can do important operations without leaving the chatroom with a set of instructions.

The big picture of ChatOps deployment

ChatOps simplifies deployment with automation: it removes manual coordination errors, and allows everyone in a project to jump in. It also encourages open communication so team members dont have to interrupt each other for updates or documentation. They can access information whenever they need it.

So how does it work and how do you set it up?

This graph shows how deployment interactions w...


The Ultimate Guide to Flexbox Learning Through Examples "IndyWatch Feed Education"

Notethis is a long read, so if you want, you can download this article and read it offline here.

Whats the best way to understand Flexbox? Learn the fundamentals, then build lots of stuff. And thats exactly what were going to do in this article.

A few things to note

Example 1: How to Make a Photo Gallery with Flexbox

Making photos run in rows and columns with Flexbox is easier than most persons perceive.

Consider a simple markup, like so:

We have 10 images within a

Assume the was styled to cover the available screen.

.gallery {
min-height: 100vh

A Quick Note on Images

By default, images are inline-block elements. They have a width and height. They will remain on a line except when constrained by size such as the images being too big to fit on a line.

The Starting point

Putting everything together, the result of all the markup and style above is this:

10 images with their width and height declarations intact. They fall unto the next line when appropriate. Obedient lads ;)

Now, get Flexbox on the scene:

.gallery {
display: flex

At this point, the default behavior of the images has alter...


Bubble animation with React Native "IndyWatch Feed Education"

Lessons learned while building a React Native App using Animated and PanResponder

In this article, Ill talk about how I implemented an app transition which I found on Dribbble by Ramotion.

This pagination controller can be used for onboarding flow or for a tutorial.

Lets begin, shall we?

Heres how I built the background:

I had View holding the background color. This includes Animated.View for the bubble animation. Its position was absolute so that it stayed on top of the screen. I also added some basic styles.

Then, I animated the bubble by expanding from 0 to max using the CSS transform scale with Animated.timing.

The above animation needed to trigger based on user interaction. First I used TouchableWithoutFeedback. Then I changed it with gestures.

I positioned the bubble according to the gif, which animated from the bottom. I did this using top and left property.


How to use Reacts controlled inputs for instant form field validation "IndyWatch Feed Education"

Controlled inputs enable simple things, like disabling the Submit button when some fields are missing or invalid.

But were not stopping there, of course.

While a disabled button is nice, the user might not know why they cant click that button. They might not know what mistake they made that disabled it or even which field is causing it.

And that aint pretty. We absolutely have to fix that.

The basics of controlled inputs

Using controlled inputs implies we are storing all the input values in our state. We can then evaluate a particular condition with every value change, and do something based on it. Previously, all we did was disable the button.

We used a simple expression to compute whether the button should be disabled (for example, when either the email or password field was empty):

const { email, password } = this.state;
const isEnabled =
email.length > 0 &&
password.length > 0;

It got the job done. Now, to mark the bad inputs, we need to ask ourselves a couple of questions.

How will the errors be shown?

This is an important question to ask yourself, as different requirements might warrant different error representations.

There are many ways to show input errors. For example, you could:

  • Display an 
  • Mark the inputs red that contain bad data
  • Display errors right next to the relevant inputs
  • Display a list of errors at the top of the form
  • Any combination of the above, or something else!

Which one should you use? Well, its all about the experience you want to provide. Pick what you want.

For the purpose of this post, Im going to use the simplest onemarking the bad inputs red, without anything else.

How will the errors be represented?

The way you want to display errors influe...


Kotlin is the new Java "IndyWatch Feed Education"

If you have been a Java developer for a while now you might be wondering what to learn next. There are a bunch of languages out there which worth a look, like Clojure, Rust or Haskell. But what if you want to learn something with which you can pay the bills but it is not a pain to use? Kotlin is in the sweet spot just where Java used to be and in this article my goal is to explain why.

So what is Kotlin?

  • A home-grown programming language by JetBrains who are the masterminds behind the acclaimed IDEA IDE and a bunch of other stuff.
  • A simple and flexible alternative to Java
  • Which interoperates well with existing Java code
  • Compiles to Java bytecode
  • Runs on the JVM
  • And also compiles to javascript

If you read the docs you can see a bunch of stuff going for it:

  • It lets you achieve more with less code
  • Solve a lot of problems in Java
  • Helps you keep using the Java ecosystem
  • Lets you write front-end and back-end code in the same language
  • Gives you 100% Java interoperability
  • It does well compared to the alternatives (Clojure, Scala)
  • Adds only a thin layer of complexity over Java

Sounds cool, right? Lets just not drink the Kool-Aid too soon and see some examples how well it fares compared to Java.

Value objects vs data classes

What you see here is a POJO with all the boilerplate:

Creating value objects is really cumbersome even with the usage of libraries like Lombok. (Lombok needs you to install a plugin into your IDE in order for it to work which might not be an option for all IDEs. It can be worked around with tools like Delombok but it is a hack at best. Read more here) At least IDEA (or Eclipse) gives you a little help with generating a lot of these methods but adding a field and forgetting to modify the equals method will lead to nasty surprises. Lets look at the Kotlin equivalent:

Monday, 11 September


[PODCAST] #511: James Davis Forced Learning Is Too Dangerous "IndyWatch Feed Education"

(FreeCoast Fest, Day 1, Newmarket, NH) James Davis is a long-time School Sucks listener and supporter. He promotes and exemplifies peaceful parenting, self-directed learning and entrepreneurship in the NH seacoast liberty community. He is the co-founder at Daily Fantasy Sports Rankings and the co-founder at Camp Stomping Ground. Discussion: - who is going to help ...

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