Code Jumper: Jumpstarting computer science interest in kids who are blind

Why didn’t I think of this. To represent code and actions based on tactile patterns is flat out genius.

The group went beyond my initial thoughts of a physical implementation of some tech akin to Scratch, a popular open source environment for primary school students to learn how to Code and think logically and sequentially. At the risk of a spoiler alert..

Research in Microsoft’s Project Torino leads to Code Jumper, which introduces kids who are blind and low vision to programming through a physical language.

Source: Code Jumper: Jumpstarting computer science interest in kids who are blind

How tech is catering to the elderly and caregivers | Venture Beat

This is very much worth some time to read. As this blogger is approaching elderly status, this needs to begin now, so when the market matures a bit, the price will come down enough to reach the maximum number of clients that could use these technical innovations, devices, and software.

At CES 2020, tech’s biggest trade show, the tech industry showed it is paying attention to the needs of the elderly and their caregivers.

Source: How tech is catering to the elderly and caregivers

PyDev of the Week: Tyler Reddy | The Mouse vs The Python

PyDev of the Week: Tyler Reddy | The Mouse vs The Python

This week we welcome Tyler Reddy (@Tyler_Reddy) as our PyDev of the Week! Tyler is a core developer of Scipy and Numpy. He has also worked on the MDAnalysis library, which is for particle physics simulation analysis. If you’re interested in seeing some of his contributions, you can check out his Github profile. Let’s spend some time getting to know Tyler better!

Tyler Reddy

Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):

I grew up in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada and stayed there until my late twenties. My Bachelor and PhD degrees were both in biochemistry, focused on structural biology. I did travel a lot for chess, winning a few notable tournaments in my early teen years and achieving a master rating in Canada by my late teens. Dartmouth is also known as the “City of Lakes,” and I grew up paddling on the nearby Lake Banook. In the cold Canadian Winter the lake would freeze over and training would switch to a routine including distance running—this is where my biggest “hobby” really took off. I still run about 11 miles daily in the early morning.

I did an almost six year post-doc in Oxford, United Kingdom. I had started to realize during my PhD that my skill set was better suited to computational work than work on the lab bench. Formally, I was still a biol- ogist while at Oxford, but it was becoming clear that my contributions were starting to look a lot more like applied computer science and computational geometry in particular. I was recruited to Los Alamos National Labora- tory to work on viruses (the kind that make a person, not computer, sick), but ultimately my job has evolved into applied computer scientist here, and nothing beats distance running in beautiful Santa Fe, NM.

Why did you start using Python?

I think it started during my PhD with Jan Rainey in Canada. He was pretty good about letting me explore ways to use programming to make research processes more efficient, even when I might have been better off in the short term by “just doing the science.” Eventually my curiosity grew to the point where I just read one of the editions of Mark Lutz’s “Learning Python” from cover to cover. I very rarely used the terminal to test things out while reading the book—I just kept going through chapters feverishly—I suppose Python is pretty readable! I still prefer reading books to random experimenting when approaching new problems/languages, though I don’t always have the time/luxury to do so. I remember reading Peter Seibel’s “Coders at Work,” and making a list of all the books the famous programmers interviewed there were talking about.

What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?

During my second postdoc at Los Alamos I read Stephen Kochan’s “Pro- gramming in C.” For that book I did basically do every single exercise in the terminal as I read it—I found that far more necessary with C than Python to get the ideas to stick. I had made an earlier attempt at reading the classic “The C Programming Language” book by K&R and found it rather hard to learn from! I thought I was doing something wrong since it was described as a classic in “Coders at Work,” I think. I’ll probably never go back to that book now, but I certainly get a lot of mileage out of my C knowledge these days.

I did a sabbatical at UC Berkeley with Stéfan van der Walt and the NumPy core team, working on open source full time for a year. NumPy is written in C under the hood, so it was essential I could at least read the source. A lot of the algorithm implementations in SciPy that I review or write are written in the hybrid Cython (C/Python) language to speed up the inner loops, etc.

I’ve also written a fair bit of tcl, and I write a lot of CMake code these days at work.

Python easily wins out as my favorite language, but C isn’t too far be- hind. I have to agree with the high-profile authors in “Coders at Work” who described C as “beautiful” (or similar) and C++ as, well, something else. Indeed, the NumPy team wrote a custom type templating language in C, processed by Python, instead of using C++. That said, Bjarne did visit UC Berkeley while I was there and it sounds like C++ may be taking a few more ideas from the Python world in the future!

Thanks for doing the interview, Tyler!

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Listen up North Carolina | NowThis

Listen up North Carolina | NowThis

The main issue is funding. It seems to me that the collective we can fund whatever we feel is important. However, in North Carolina, most of the collective we aren’t important. And this spans both political parties in this state. It’s almost as North Carolina has “Alabama” level aspirations in their interaction with minorities in general.

NowThis tweet.

Microsoft shares new technique to address online grooming of children for sexual purposes | Microsoft on the Issues

Microsoft shares new technique to address online grooming of children for sexual purposes | Microsoft on the Issues

Online child exploitation is a horrific crime that requires a whole-of-society approach. Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, we have a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. We leverage technology across our services to detect, disrupt and report illegal content, including child sexual exploitation. And we innovate and invest in tools, technology and partnerships to support the global fight needed to address online child sexual exploitation.

In furtherance of those commitments, today Microsoft is sharing a grooming detection technique, code name “Project Artemis,” by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available via Thorn to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function. Thorn is a technology nonprofit that builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse.

The development of this new technique began in November 2018 at a Microsoft “360 Cross-Industry Hackathon,” which was co-sponsored by the WePROTECT Global Alliance in conjunction with the Child Dignity Alliance. These “360” hackathons are multifaceted, focusing not just on technology and engineering but also on legal and policy aspects as well as operations and policy implementation. Today’s announcement marks the technical and engineering progress over the last 14 months by a cross-industry v-team from Microsoft, The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik, Thorn and others to help identify potential instances of child online grooming for sexual purposes and to operationalize an effective response. The teams were led by Dr. Hany Farid, a leading academic who, in 2009, partnered with Microsoft and Dartmouth College on the development of PhotoDNA, a free tool that has assisted in the detection, disruption and reporting of millions of child sexual exploitation images and is used by more than 150 companies and organizations around the world.


At Microsoft, we embrace a multi-stakeholder model to combat online child exploitation that includes survivors and their advocates, government, tech companies and civil society working together. Combating online child exploitation should and must be a universal call to action.

Learn how to detect, remove and report child sexual abuse materials at PhotoDNA or contact Follow @MSFTissues on Twitter.

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Government data protection—earning and retaining the public’s trust with Microsoft 365

Microsoft Photo

Citizen confidence in government institutions and public servants depends on trust. Citizens need to trust that the individuals and agencies representing them will act in good faith to protect their interests. Whether it’s the safety of food, medications, infrastructure, information, or national security, the sustainability of the social contract between the government and its constituents requires persistent attention to retain the public’s trust.

For governments to function, the flow of data on a massive scale is required—including sensitive information about critical infrastructure, public safety, and security. The higher the stakes in data sensitivity, the more attractive the information is to malefactors for reasons that range from financial gain to political influence. It should come as no surprise that the security of government information systems is subject to constant attempted attacks.

The Zero Trust model

The Zero Trust security model adheres to three pillars:

  1. Explicit verification of every access request.
  2. Use of least privileged access with just-in-time adaptive risk-based access policies.
  3. Assume breach mentality to minimize potential damage to, or loss of data from, additional parts of the organization.

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