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Thursday, 24 August



UP: deploy serverless apps in seconds freeCodeCamp - Medium

Last year I wrote Blueprints for Up, describing how most of the building blocks are available to create a great serverless experience on AWS with minimal effort. This post talks about the initial alpha release of Up.

Why focus on serverless? For starters its cost-effective since you pay on-demand, only for what you use. Serverless options are self-healing, as each request is isolated and considered to be stateless. And finally it scales indefinitely with easethere are no machines or clusters to manage. Deploy your code and youre done.

Roughly a month ago I decided to start working on it over at apex/up, and wrote the first small serverless sample application tj/gh-polls for live SVG GitHub user polls. It worked well and costs less than $1/month to serve millions of polls, so I thought Id go ahead with the project and see if I can offer open-source and commercial variants.

The long-term goal is to provide a Bring your own Heroku of sorts, supporting many platforms. While Platform-as-a-Service is nothing new, the serverless ecosystem is making this kind of program increasingly trivial. This said, AWS and others often suffer in terms of UX due to the flexibility they provide. Up abstracts the complexity away, while still providing you with a virtually ops-free solution.


You can install Up with the following command, and view the temporary documentation to get started. Or if youre sketched out by install scripts, grab a binary release. (Keep in mind that this project is still early on.)

curl -sfL | sh
up upgrade

You may also install via NPM:

npm install -g up


What features does the early alpha provide? Lets take a look! Keep in mind that Up is not a hosted service, so youll need an AWS account and AWS credentials. If youre not familiar at all with AWS you may want to hold off until that process is streamlined.

The first question I always get is: how does up(1) differ from apex(1)? Apex focuses on deploying functions, for pipelines and event processing, while Up focuses on apps, apis, and static sites, aka single deployable units. Apex does not provisio...


How to write your first React.js component freeCodeCamp - Medium

Reacts function and class components, props, state, and event handlers

The most important concept to understand in React.js is the component. A React component can be one of two types. It can be either a function component or a class component. Sometimes you will hear different terms to describe these two types, like stateless and stateful. Function components are also often associated with the presentational concept. I will refer to them in this article as function components and class components.

A function component is the simplest form of a React component. It is a simple function with a simple contract:

Screenshot captured from my Pluralsight courseReact.js: Getting Started

The function component receives an object of properties which is usually named props. It returns what looks like HTML, but is really a special JavaScript syntax called JSX.

A class component is a more featured way to define a React component. It also acts like a function that receives props, but that function also considers a private internal state as additional input that controls the returned JSX.

Screenshot captured from my Pluralsight courseReact.js: Getting Started

This private internal state is what gives React its reactive nature. When the state of a class component changes, React will re-render that component in the browser.

The State and Props objects have one important difference. Inside a class component, the State object can be changed while the Props object represents fixed values. Class components can only change their internal state, not their properties. This is a core idea to understand in React and this article will have an example of that.

Lets look at an actual example of a component. A very simple one, without any input and with a simple h1 in a div output.

Screenshot captured from my Pluralsight courseReact.js: Getting Started

On the left side, the component is written in the special JSX syntax.

JSX allows us to describe our User Interfaces (UIs) in...


Want to learn something? Research it and present your work. freeCodeCamp - Medium

Me and my poster at the Arizona Nevada Academy of Science meeting.

When Im learning about something, I eventually hit a plateau. Its hard to fight past this feeling. Ive found that researching and then presenting that research helps me get unstuck.

You dont have to be a student or professor to do this. I encourage everyone to try it. Just as posting your code on GitHub adds to open source, presenting (and publishing) your research adds to the body of scientific knowledge.

Creating a project

I started this project in January 2017 to learn more about machine learning and cyber security. Both are topics Ive read about but have never applied. Since I didnt know the current state of research in either area, I decided to tackle a problem in cyber security.

After a bit of sifting I found a government report from 2009. It described current problems and areas that need more research. I was drawn to the section on Insider Threats, so I decided to apply machine learning to insider threats.

I thought to myselfHow hard can it be?

I was excited about the project, but hadnt yet read any papers in the area. I started thinking of ways to evaluate how the average person uses a computer versus an insider with malicious intent. Because my laptop runs Ubuntu and Im often in the terminal, the idea of looking at commands came to mind.

I decided I would capture commands as they happen, make evaluations, and try to stop malicious and mistake commands in their tracks. I didnt know what I was getting myself into. I wrote an abstract (available here) and got to work.

The Research

A month later, I had done some (minimal) preliminary research. I then submitted my abstract to the AZ/NV Academy of Science. Since they accepted it, I seemed to be on the right path.

I had been in no rush to get anything done. I had months to go before presenting! This was a bad mindset. By the time my poster was accepted I had only five weeks to prepare. I raced to gather a reasonable body of research to build upon.

To my surprise, I found quite a few papers that have taken a stab at this problem. In fact, someone tried the same approach I chose back in 1999 and their research was proven ineffective a few years later! How could I go on?

I continued to read from the stack of papers I built up. Then it dawned on me that nobody was actually applying this stuff to a real-life situation. There was my differentiator: a practical application.

The Data

Before I could start writing code, I needed data for my ma...


Snap Events: how you can now create calendar events just by taking a picture freeCodeCamp - Medium

Google just published my first Android app, Snap Event, in their Play Store. Snap Event create calendar events from photographs of the events poster.

The app is by no means perfect, but its functional and is a proof of concept that the idea works.

This article is a write-up of how I built and published this app.


People say the best way to learn a new programming language or framework is to do a project with it. Sure, you need some familiarity with the basics of whatever it is that youre trying to learn. But past that stage, projects are the way to go.

There were three motivating factors behind the development of this app:

  1. My previous attempt at learning Android two years ago had failed. I wanted to give it another shot.
  2. I already had a project idea in mind.
  3. One of my professors asked us each to build an Android app. Wed get credit for it.

Whenever I saw a poster for some event, such as a concert or conference, I took its picture to keep track of what exactly was on the poster. Most people I knew did this. I searched, but I couldnt find any other app thats similar in functionality to what I had in mind. This was surprising.

So my friend Alexander Alex Kaberlein and I decided to build this app.

App Development

Creating calendar events from their posters comes down to three things:

  1. Detecting text from the image.
  2. Making sense of the detected text.
  3. Creating a calendar event.

Our focus was to ship a working app as early as possible, and then iron out its shortcomings. As a consequence, we made some compromises during the design phase. This was supposed to be a learning experience, after all. We have zero intentions of making money from this app.

Detecting Text From The Image

Our project couldve been shelved right away if we had failed to detect text from images. Though in retrospect step two was harder. I had no knowledge whatsoever about computer vision. Alex had some familiarity with OpenCV, but we did not have enough time to come up with our own image recognition models.

Based on what I read on the internet, I was aware of certain off-the-shelf libraries and services for image recognition. In particular, the three services we considered were:

  1. Amazon Rekognition
  2. Google Cloud Vision
  3. Google Mobile Vision

It didnt take long for us to zero in on Google Mobile Vision:...


Leadership Skills for the Future of Work Coursera Blog

Coursera for Business is hosting a webinar, Leadership Skills for the Future of Work, on Thursday, September 7th at 10 am PST.

The world of work is rapidly changing due to technology, globalization, and a new generation of workers. In this changing landscape, the ability to identify and develop capable leaders will be key to business success. However, companies are struggling to see what lies ahead and to help potential leaders develop the skills they will need.

In this webinar, we will discuss:

  • What are soft skills, and which ones are in demand for future leaders
  • Where can L&D leaders find corporate learning programs for leadership development
  • How to measure the ROI of soft skills training


Register here to learn about the latest trends in leadership skills.
If youre interested in Coursera for Business, please contact us.



The post Leadership Skills for the Future of Work appeared first on Coursera Blog.

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