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Thursday, 21 September


AI is the New Electricity for Business & Society Coursera Blog

Artificial Intelligence is no longer a fictional concept, and with every passing day, is becoming part of our day-to-day functioning be it in the form of virtual personal assistants like Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant or chatbots which we use while shopping online. All the economic value of AI today is created through supervised learning in which some input data (A) is used to quickly generate some simple response (B). For example, targeted online ads are an application where if you input an ad and user information, the output is whether the user will click on the ad or not.

Courseras co-founder Andrew Ng gave a talk on September 18 on the topic Artificial Intelligence is the New Electricity for Business and Society, an analogy he often draws to describe how Artificial Intelligence can transform various industries just like electricity did 100 years ago. The talk was attended by business and technology leaders in India from industries such as Telecom, Banking and Financial Services, Consumer goods and services, Professional Services and Consultancy firms.

During the talk, Andrew shared his views and answered questions from the audience around:

  • What AI can and cannot do
  • Business implications of AI in industries such as telecom and financial services
  • Building talent for an AI powered society
  • How business leaders can embrace the AI revolution

Some insights from the talk:

Maximum opportunity lies at the intersection of AIs capabilities and what is of value to your organization

Most of the AI capabilities that create value for business such as speech recognition, autonomous cars, loan approval processing systems, chatbots have been developed in the last few years. These capabilities create a massive opportunity for creating lucrative business models but they require a mix of both AI expertise and domain expertise. Only an organisation that has both can extract maximum value from these opportunities.

Business leaders should focus on building centralized AI teams and training employees in AI technologies

Given that there are very few companies who have enough AI talent, a question that often pops up in the minds of business leaders is how can they match supply and demand of talent. Executives should focus on two strategies:

  • Build a centralized AI team and slow...

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Wednesday, 20 September


How to survive a coding bootcamp and maximize your chances of getting hired freeCodeCamp - Medium

Photo Credit: Simon Arbams

In 2015 I was totally non-technical. And yet, five months later, I got hired as a developer. This was all thanks to a fantastic (and free) coding bootcamp in London. It was the best learning experience Ive ever had, and one that Ive written a lot about.

Im now building a coding screencast tool that makes it easier to teach and learn programming, so I care a lot about this subject. I love to hear stories of people who have changed their lives through learning how to code.

But not everyone who attends a coding bootcamp succeeds to get a good job. This isnt surprising since there are so many pitfalls to avoid along the way. So this article will help you avoid these pitfalls and come out on the other end as an professional developer.

Tip #1: Pick the right one

First of all, you should think closely about which coding bootcamp you choose. There are many of them, and what separates them isnt merely their quality, but a bunch of other verticals as well.

Here are a few:

  • Cost: ranges from free (or free upfront, but you pay a percentage of your first years salary) on up to US $20,000
  • Location: should you move to a different city or finding a local coding bootcamp?
  • Tools taught: JavaScript/Node.js, Python, Ruby, .NET, etc.
  • Online VS offline

Consider each of these factors and figure out whats important for you and whats not. Once you know what you want (i.e. a JavaScript bootcamp for under 15K USD in the US this autumn) you can start searching for the right one.

You should be methodical about this. If you need tips on exactly how to do this, Ive written an article about how I did it here.

In essence, I made a big list of the ones that were relevant for me, then applied to all of them. Then I filtered down as I either got rejected or decided to reject them.

I got accepted to five different ones, meaning I could pick and choose. After a lot of consideration, I went for Founders and Coders in London.

One of the most important aspects of this process is filtering out the less serious schools. You dont want to end up at a school which cares more about making money than creating good software developers.

Tip #2: Prepare like hell.

Since you only have a few months to build up your skills, you should do yourself a favor...


Two new articles from Y&P On NEETS and Young Muslims IN DEFENCE OF YOUTH WORK

Continuing the promise of Y&Ps revised format, two new, stimulating articles are awaiting your perusal.

From NEET to Unknown: Who is responsible for young people not in education, employment or training?


Situating his discussion in its recent historical context, Liam Wrigley examines how young people labelled as NEET have now become unknown or lost, arguing that this is due to a lack of clear strategy concerning actors that have been responsibilised in responding to the employment, training and welfare needs of young people.

The number of young people (between 16-24 years of age) who experience being Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) has been of grave concern, with the rates of young people labelled as not in education, employment or training remaining high (Simmons et al, 2014). In the UK alone, the number of young people who are NEET has fluctuated between 15% in 2002 to 11.5% in 2016 (DfE, 2017). The label NEET has been successively adopted throughout Europe and internationally (Simmons et al, 2014), although there has been great variation in how this policy label has been defined globally (i.e. some countries count unemployed young people who are graduates or in precarious work situations or zero hourcontracts). The label reflects a growing trend in recognizing young people that have fallen outside the labour market or education. Throughout Europe, the rate of NEET young people remains high, with countries such as Spain, Ireland and Italy recording more than 17% of young people as out of education, employment or training (...


Was that real or VR? Learn how to make virtual reality lifelike from top researchers Coursera Blog

Virtual Reality has the potential to change how we shop, learn in school, and get treated in the hospital. Businesses are hunting for people who understand how to design technology and experiences for this new medium. Starting today, were excited to make it possible for anyone to become leaders in applying VR to enhance everything from gaming to training.

The Virtual Reality Specialization, launching today, is taught by Dr. Sylvia Pan and Dr. Marco Gillies from Goldsmiths, University of London, based on their combined 25 years experience working in some of the worlds most well-known Virtual Reality labs. Their expertise is in the generation of interactive and engaging virtual characters, a primary focus in the new Specialization they teach on Coursera.

Many of the mistakes made by Virtual Reality content creators come from not understanding the psychology of how VR works and what it means for how we create content, which is an important feature of this Specialization, said Dr Marco Gillies. In Virtual Reality users need to physically interact so they feel present in the surrounding environment. This means other characters must respond in the same way they would in the real world.

These courses combine theory the basic psychology of how VR works with practical production skills. All the time learners are doing the practical work, they are also having to think about the psychology behind it.

The Specialization includes five course modules, starting with an introduction to Virtual Reality, designed for non-technical learners interested in gaining a basic understanding of the applications of VR. At the end, learners have the chance to use the skills developed in each course to create their own Virtual Reality game. Throughout the Specialization, learners get hands-on experience using leading technology tools for Virtual Reality, including Unity.

The potential for Virtual Reality to change the way we work, learn, and play is significant, but we need more people educated in VR technologies and design to get there, said Jessica Lindl, Unitys Global Head of Education. This series of courses from the University of London is a great example of a credential that can really help anyone interested in applying Virtual Reality in the work that they do.

The Virtual Reality Specia...


How to become a Data Scientist freeCodeCamp - Medium

Hi! Im Jose Portilla and Im an instructor on Udemy with over 250,000 students enrolled across various courses on Python for Data Science and Machine Learning, R Programming for Data Science, Python for Big Data, and many more.

Almost every day a student will ask me some form of this question:

What should I do to become a data scientist?

In this post, Ill try my best to help answer this question and point to resources that can help guide you to an answer, also hopefully this post serves as something I can quickly link to my students :)

Before we get started, Im now teaching Data Science for Python and R on Udemy. You can check out these courses below and get a discount for using these links:

For Python:

Python for Data Science and Machine Learning Bootcamp

For R:

Data Science and Machine Learning Bootcamp with R

Now on to the rest of this post. Ive broken down the steps into some key topics and discussed helpful details for each.

The Journey

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.Mark Twain

If you are interested in becoming a data scientist the best advice is to begin preparing for your journey now. Taking the time to understand core concepts will not only be very useful once you are interviewing, but it will also help you decide whether you are truly interested in this field.

Before starting on the path to becoming a data scientist, its important that you are honest with yourself about why you want to do this. There are probably some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Do you enjoy statistics and programming? (Or at least what youve learned so far about them?)
  • Do you enjoy working in a field where you need to constantly be learning about the latest techniques and technologies in this space?
  • Are you interested in becoming a data scientist, even if it just paid an average salary?
  • Are you okay with other job titles (e.g. Data Analyst, Business Analyst, etc)?

Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself. If you answered yes, then you are on your way to become a data scientist.

The path to becoming a data scientist will most likely take you some time, depending on your previous experience and your network. Leveraging these two can help place you in a data scientist role faster, but be prepared to always be learning. Lets now jump to discussions o...


Lets Call Soft Skills What They Really Are: Power Skills Coursera Blog

By Lila Ibrahim

Ive been working in the tech industry for 25 years, and Ive noticed a trend recently that leaves me scratching my head: We seem to value technical skills much more than the core people skills that actually make people effective at work.

While technical competence and expertise are certainly important, I like working with people who know how to communicate their ideas, use their influence to move important projects through potential roadblocks, and who get me excited about our work together.

We call people skills soft skills, but I think its time to reframe that conversation, to make sure were giving these foundational skills the emphasis they deserve. Lets commit to calling them what they are power skills. Heres why theyre so important, and what you can do to promote power skills at your organization.

Power Skills Separate Leaders from the Pack

If youve worked with technical teams, youve probably know this scene all too well: Most people sit in front of their computers all day, dutifully working on the problems theyre tasked with solving.

But there are always a few who take a different approach: they get up and walk around, talk to the people whose business challenges theyre working on, and find out who has the different pieces of information they need. They say yes a lot. They take on work that falls outside of their core responsibilities. They learn how to talk in front of groups of people. They follow their natural curiosity. They deliver on their work, while building something bigger than the original task.

Getting up from their desks and developing new relationship muscles leads these people on a unique path and pushes them into management positions sooner than their peers.

Being an expert in one technical area is great, but it leaves you with a limited scope of influence. On the other hand, if youre an expert who can apply your knowledge to different industries and problems, and coach others on what youve learned, you increase your influence, your network, and the opportunities that come your way.

Power Skills Create Business Opportunities

But power skills arent just about individual success. Developing power skills in employees can create tangible business results.

Imagine you work with a razor-sharp engineer lets call him Fred whose expertise is online security. But unlike many technical experts, he has very well-developed people skills. He speaks and writes about pressing security problems, and he quickly rises to pr...

Tuesday, 19 September


Homeless iPhone (Part 2) freeCodeCamp - Medium

Pause. Rewind. Deep dive in the design process.

Two weeks ago I posted about the possibility of an iPhone that has no Home button at all.

With iOS 11 on an iPad you enjoy a whole new app switcher. As a little design challenge, I study how this UI could work on the imminent iPhone 8, and whether it could cater for the absence of Home button.

Today Ive paused the exploration, and Im walking you through the design process. Well review my sketches in detail, see what they reveal about the train of thought (ouch!), and look at a couple of prototype variants that youll be able to download and try.

Being process-oriented, not product-driven, is the most important and difficult skill for a designer to develop.
Matthew Frederick

Sketches and prototypes below are provided as is, they havent been modified at all for the sake of this article. I include raw scans of my large sketch boards, so the post is probably best viewed on desktop or tablet.


I always keep my sketches and notes. Theyre useful to review in slow motion what has happened in the mind, assess the reasoning, and have a fresh look at germinating ideas that were forgotten on the road side.

For this project I used two A3 sheets. Lets comment the key screens:

1. Trying to force-fit the iPad design. In that first attempt, everything is on a single horizontal scroll view. And theres a Home button! False start.
2. Trying again. But stopping fast since clearly, its not going to work. My proportions are completely unrealistic. Lack of discipline.
3. A more realistic ratio. I finally acknowledge its a very long phone Im dealing with (6/13 ratio). Im going to need my imagination. The whole view now scrolls vertically, with apps on 2 columns. An accident happens here: my focus has now shifted to the iPhones Control Centre (that Im probably examining on my iOS 11 phone, as a model for the sketch). Im misled and add the little chevron at the top, meaning swipe down to close.
Sheet 1 of 2
4. A potential conflict. Because I now wrongly assume the UI can be swiped down, I worry this is going to interfere with my vertical scroll. I capture this in a side note: KO since swipe needed to close overlay. I swap things, move apps to the top, as if it could help, but finally plant the seed of an alternative idea: Recent apps @ top but as horiz. carousel.


JavaScript from callbacks to async/await freeCodeCamp - Medium

Thomas Kelley

JavaScript is synchronous. This means that it will execute your code block by order (after hoisting*). That is, unless you use a timer or request which are asynchronous.

Asynchronous requests will wait for a timer to finish or a request to respond while the rest of the code executes. Thenwhen the time is righta callback will spring these asynchronous requests into action.

For example, this is synchronous code:


This code will reliably log 1 2 3".

On the other hand:

setTimeout(function afterTwoSeconds() {
}, 2000)

This will actually log 1 3 2, since the 2 is on a setTimeout which will only execute, by this example, after two seconds. Your application does not hang waiting for the two seconds to finish, it instead keeps executing the rest of the code and when the timeout is finished it returns to afterTwoSeconds.

Why is this useful? or How do I get my async code to become sync? may be some of the questions you may be asking and hopefully I can show it to you.

*Hoisting is where before code execution, var and function declarations are hoisted to the top of their scope. You can read more in detail about hoisting here.

The problem

Let us say our objective is to search for a github user and get all the repositories of that user, the thing is we dont know the exact name of the user so we have to list all the users with similar name and their respective repositories.

Doesnt need to super fancy, something like this

So much style, wow! You can find this bootstrap here

For the examples the request code will be done with XHR (XMLHttpRequest) but you can replace it with jQuery $.ajax or the more recent native approach called fetch, both will give you the promises approach out of the gate. It will be slightly changed depending on the approach but as a starter:

// url argument can be something like ''
function request(url) {
const xhr = new XMLHttpRequest();
xhr.timeout = 2000;
xhr.onreadystatechange = function(e) {
if (xhr.readyState === 4) {
if (xhr.status === 200) {
// Code here for the server answer when succe...


Why Docker makes sense for startups freeCodeCamp - Medium

Mandatory container metaphor is mandatory. Credit: chuttersnap

Docker is becoming the standard to develop and run containerized applications.

Long ago, this piece of technology might have made sense to system administrator and PaaS (Platform as a Service) providers. But weve been hearing rather little from startups about their Docker adoption. Particularly the 1to-10-employee-strong ones. This is an impression that somewhat correlates with Datadog HQs recent research:

guess this story could have been more timely written in 2015.

In case youre unsure if its worth the trouble, we thought wed reveal how much adopting a container-friendly architecture has helped our startup. And why you might take Docker for a spin if you havent yet.

The Development Experience

If you work in a small two pizza startup, theres a high chance people in your team are a multidisciplinary lot. Once projects are no longer siloed, youll receive a warm welcome into development environment hell.

Consider a simple scenario of a front-end engineer needing a not-yet-in-production API from a back-end. You could overcome this by making do with mocked data, or setting up staging environments. These are great. But nothing beats the agility of running integrations against the back-end code itself.

Tools like docker-compose did wonders for us. All a newcomer has to do is install a single thing. It is a a large thing. One invocation of docker-compose will have Docker setup everything for you so you can jump straight back into coding.

The declarative nature of these tools provides a simple description of how runtime components talk to each other. This makes reasoning about your top-level architecture all the easier.


As well as being useful in development, Docker also brought us simplicity when packaging our code for production. This is because it makes development and production environments all the more symmetric. That is a point made by 12factors...


Up next: nothing? How information overload is impacting our brains. freeCodeCamp - Medium

The ol red dot.

15 years ago, I made two major choices before I went to school in the mornings. I picked what cereal I would have (how good were Ricicles?), then sifted through my CD collection before popping one into my Discman for the day.

Thanks for the image, Reddit

Sure, there were some other micro-decisions in there. But with these two major choices out of the way, I could get ready for school and pop down the road to the bus stop, cranking my CD of choice. It was probably ska punk. (And Im not embarrassed by that in the slightest).

Id arrive at the bus stop and hang out, waiting for the bus to come. Listening to my music. Id get on the bus, stare out the window and keep listening. The album would probably be repeating by the time I got to school, disconnected, and went into the music rooms to play guitar.

This is a completely unremarkable story. My mornings were not exciting.

Then vs. now

However, try being a kid going to school today. Most adolescents own at least one device. According to Pew Research Centre, 73% of teens had access to smartphones a couple years ago.

Think of that same journey I took 15 years ago. Today, its not so simple. Armed with a smartphone and a Spotify subscription, the music choice grows from around 50 CDs to over 30 million songs. Even when you manage to choose an album, what are the chances youll keep listening until the end?

Never mind the overwhelming choice of songs. Theres the notifications youll encounter along the way. Vibrate. Facebook memory. Vibrate. Someone mentioned you on Twitter. Vibrate. Someone viewed your LinkedIn profile.

Thanks Meme Generator for this one

Gone are the days of staring out the window. On my tram rides these days, all I see are people staring down, engaged in screen time. Whether theyre playing games, checking on social media, or engaging in notifications, suddenly listening to music isnt the primary activity. Its the supplement, the background music to our own little smartphone worlds.

This matters.

I care about thisbut not because I think we should all be paying attention every second and talking to every stranger who sits beside us...


How I built a Smart Mirror, with a little help from my daughter and her grandpa freeCodeCamp - Medium

This month I built a smart mirror with my dad and daughter. This project spanned across three generations.

The idea started a few years ago with the novelty of a smart mirror. But before I was going invest the time and money to make one, I needed a practical reason to build one. Recently that reason presented itself.

In our kitchen we have a whiteboard where we list out our dinner plans for the week and I wanted to upgrade it. I submitted a presentation idea for the smart mirror at local tech conference. My smart mirror presentation was selected. This accelerated my timeline.

Programming the Smart Mirror with my Daughter

I needed help with the design of the smart mirror frame

since I live in the digital world designing software that lives in the cloud. My dad is a Mechanical Engineer who lives in the physical world designing the planes we fly though the clouds everyday. While talking with my dad one evening, he suggested to create some initial sketches of the mirror.

Initial Design of Smart Mirror

After a few more conversations with my dad and several design revisions, we settled on a simple box design for the frame. My dad knew more about woodworking than I did, and he had a few suggestions for me.

Like using cabinet draw sides for the sides of the frame as they already came with a groove to hold the glass. And using french cleats to secure the mirror to the wall. This also allowed it to be easily removed for transport.

Revised Design of the Smart Mirror

My wife was a huge support in this endeavor. She helped by sorting through dozens of televisions looking for the right price and features. The size had to be large enough for our kitchen, but not too large to make transporting a hassle. Finally she was able to get a television from Best Buy that had everything I was looking for. And the best part was that it was on sale.

The most noticeable part of the smart mirror is the reflective mirror. Most household mirrors are made from glass. But the biggest downside to using glass is that its fragile and doesnt transport well. I chose plastic as its lighter, more transparent, and more durable.

Its nice to talk to experts and I live in Seattle which has a great local plastic supplier. They were excellent and able to help me select the correct plastic. They suggested acrylic and we even tested the mirror film I had acquired on a sample they had. And...


[PODCAST] #513: Building Self Directed Learning Communities (With Diane Murphy) School Sucks Project

(FreeCoast Fest - Day 2 - Dover, NH) Diane Murphy taught in public schools for 30 years before she retired early to build BigFish, an innovative self-directed learning community in Dover, NH. I had the pleasure of speaking with Diane at the FreeCoast Festival and of hearing her presentation on BigFish. We sat down to ...

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