This week we welcome Marlene Mhangami (@marlene_zw) as our PyDev of the Week! Marlene is the PyCon Africa (@pyconafrica) chair, the co-founder of @zimbopy and a director for the Python Software Foundation. Let’s spend some time getting to know her!
Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):
Sure, in college I studied molecular biology. I was actually in the schools pre-medicine track because I initially thought I wanted to become a doctor. Looking back on it now I laugh because I hate blood, just the sight of it in movies makes me shut my eyes tightly, so I’m genuinely happy that didn’t work out! I went to a liberal arts college and appreciate that I had the space to take courses in other fields like philosophy and politics which I really enjoy.
I get asked about what hobbies I have quite often, and I’m not sure if I have anything I do consistently enough to call a hobby. I read, and sometimes run, and love to journal. I also occasionally paint, but the last time I told someone I painted they asked me where my studios were and started listing off artists that I had never heard of before, so I like to disclaimer that I don’t paint in a way that is cultured or sophisticated but just as a way to express myself and have fun.
Why did you start using Python?
For a good chunk of my college, I was studying in the United States. I remember coming home one summer and being really aware of how different Zimbabwe was from the U.S. From really small cultural differences like how people address conflict (which is something I’m still trying to figure out with my US friends) to much more impactful things like access to knowledge and education.
I decided that I wanted to stay in my country and start being more involved with empowering my local community. For a number of clear and obscure reasons, I also decided that I wanted to leverage technology to help me do that. As I’m writing this out I’m actually remembering a great conversation I had with one of my friends. She had initially been a math major and then suddenly switched to computer science. I remember her telling me how much she enjoyed building stuff with code and how useful it was. She had created a program that could predict the warmest pathway to walk through on campus (she was also an international student who struggled with the cold, so both of us agreed that this was an extremely useful invention.) I also had a really vivid dream that made me re-evaluate what I was doing with my life.
All of these things led me to start googling around and I actually ended up organizing a meetup. It was there that I got introduced to one of my co-founders, Ronald Maravanykia, who was at the time running a Django girls workshop in Harare. He introduced me to Python as a great educational tool for teaching programming to people who don’t have a computer science background. I use Python primarily to help with teaching for our non-profit ZimboPy, so while I don’t use it in my day job, I really enjoy sharing it with the girls we teach.
What other programming languages do you know and which is your favorite?
Thanks for doing the interview, Marlene!
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I guess there is no true way of getting around the centralization part of decentralized technologies. Just when you think that distributed nodes are a great thing, the party is always spoiled.
When there is a will and a need, there is a way. Once Government people figure that out (not in this administration) the nation will be in a better place.
When the s**t hits the fan, it is great to lose faith in humanity. Here is an example to counter that theory.
I guess the S part in HTTP3 is assumed. Also a year away.
Alexa is finally moving out of the house. That was the underlying theme of Amazon’s annual hardware and services unveiling in Seattle this week, as the company put its voice assistant into wireless…
One way to think about the new tech that Amazon is doing is Bluetooth on steroids. That is a low-power device with longer range. The potential issue is that Amazon may own the technology and not being open source.
Today, with the launch of the CyberPeace Institute, the world will gain an important new ally in understanding the impact of cyberattacks, in working to develop rules for proper conduct in cyberspace and in helping the most vulnerable victims of cyberattacks become more resilient.
Today’s news is important because cybersecurity is one of the more critical issues of our time. The escalating attacks we’ve seen in recent years are not just about computers attacking computers – these attacks threaten and often harm the lives and livelihoods of real people, including their ability to access basic services like health care, banking, and electricity. In May 2017 it took the WannaCry attack just hours to impact more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries including systems that supported the National Institute of Health in Great Britain. Six weeks later, NotPetya disabled an estimated 10 percent of all computers in Ukraine, crippling businesses, transit systems, and banks there before halting the systems of multinational corporations around the world and suspending operations of one of the world’s leading shipping companies. At Microsoft, we track cyberattacks by dozens of nation-state actors, and activity continues to increase.
It will take a multi-stakeholder effort to address these issues. The internet is the creation of the private sector, which is primarily responsible for its operation, evolution, and security. But governments have an important role to play in observing and enforcing norms for conduct in cyberspace and in deterring damaging attacks by other nations. Governments, the private sector, civil society and academia must be part of discussing solutions and taking concrete steps to protect people. Badly needed in the fight against cyberattacks is a credible source of research and analysis about the impact of cyberattacks around the globe on world citizens. Another important gap is the need for immediate help and advocacy for the most vulnerable victims of these attacks. For years, nongovernmental organizations around the world have provided on-the-ground help and vocal advocacy for victims of wars and natural disasters, and have convened important discussions about protecting the victims they serve. It’s become clear that victims of attacks originating on the internet deserve similar assistance, and the CyberPeace Institute will do just that.
For these reasons, Microsoft has joined the Hewlett Foundation, MasterCard and other leading organizations as initial funders of the institute. The institute will be independent, and we anticipate it will have a significant impact on the three core areas where it will function:
- Assistance: Coordinating recovery efforts for the most vulnerable victims of cyberattacks and helping vulnerable communities and organizations become more resilient to attacks.
- Accountability: Facilitating the collective analysis, research, and investigation of cyberattacks, including by assessing their harm, and bringing greater transparency to the problem so everyone has better information to inform action.
- Advancement: Promoting responsible behavior in cyberspace and advancing international laws and rules.
The rest of the post: CyberPeace Institute fills a critical need for cyberattack victims appeared first on Microsoft on the Issues.
We believe customers have a right to know when law enforcement requests their email or documents, and we have a right to tell them. The reason is simple – we believe our customers own their data and have the right to control it. Absent extraordinary circumstances, government agents should seek data directly from our enterprise customers, and if they seek our customers’ data from us, they should allow us to tell our customers when demands are made. We believe strongly that these fundamental protections should not disappear just because customers store their data in the cloud rather than in file cabinets or desk drawers.
When a law enforcement agency presents Microsoft with a legally valid warrant, court order or subpoena requesting data that belongs to one of our enterprise customers, we seek to redirect that request to the customer. And in the vast majority of cases, that is exactly what happens. There are times, however, when the government comes to us for data and prevents us from telling our enterprise customers that it is seeking their data. We agree that there are some limited circumstances in which law enforcement must be able to operate in secret to prevent crime and terrorism and keep people safe. And while we agree that secrecy orders that prevent us from notifying our customers may be appropriate in those limited circumstances, we also believe there are times when those orders go too far. In those cases, we will litigate to protect our customers’ rights.
Curbing the overuse of secrecy orders
We filed a lawsuit in late 2018 to protect these rights, which was recently unsealed by a U.S. District Court. This legal challenge follows our prior litigation to curb the overuse of secrecy orders and highlight the growing need for principles to govern law enforcement access to data in the United States and internationally. This is an important fight we take on out of principle, and it is a fight we will continue to mount.
We take this responsibility seriously and have repeatedly called for principles to govern law enforcement access to data in the United States and internationally. The first such principle is the universal right to notice — i.e., absent narrow circumstances, users have a right to know when the government accesses their data, and cloud providers must have a right to tell them. Moving into the 21st century should not mean a brand-new rule that allows the government to execute a warrant without any notice to the target of that warrant.
The rest of the post Ensuring secrecy orders are the exception, not the rule when the government seeks data owned by our customers appeared first on Microsoft on the Issues.
What I find coincidental about this posting on the same day history-making news was announced surrounding national political events. The announcement of impeachment inquiries has in part been a result of insecure voting. As the great national security philosopher, Malcolm Nance, once stated: Coincidences take a lot of planning.
In May, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced ElectionGuard, a free open-source software development kit (SDK) from our Defending Democracy Program. ElectionGuard is accessible by design and will make voting more secure, verifiable and efficient anywhere it’s used in the United States or in democratic nations around the world. Today we’re announcing that ElectionGuard is now available on GitHub so that major election technology suppliers can begin integrating ElectionGuard into their voting systems.
The ElectionGuard resources available on GitHub today extend across four GitHub repositories, or storage spaces, each described below.
ElectionGuard specification. The ElectionGuard specification includes both “informal” and “formal” road maps for how ElectionGuard works. The informal spec is authored by Dr. Josh Benaloh of Microsoft Research and provides the conceptual and mathematical basis for end-to-end verifiable elections with ElectionGuard. The formal spec contains detailed guidance manufacturers will need to incorporate ElectionGuard into their systems, including a full description of the API – which is the way voting systems communicate with the ElectionGuard software – and the stages of an end-to-end verifiable election.
Software code. This repository contains the actual source code vendors will use to build their ElectionGuard implementations. It is written in C, a standard language commonly used by open-source software developers and includes a buildable version of the API. This documentation is also viewable here. This code was built together with our development partner Galois.
Reference verifier and specification. As we announced in May, ElectionGuard enables government entities, news organizations, human rights organizations, or anyone else to build additional verifiers that independently can certify election results have been accurately counted and have not been altered. The resources available on GitHub today include a working verifier as well as the specifications necessary to build your own independent verifier.
The rest of the post ElectionGuard available today to enable secure, verifiable voting appeared first on Microsoft on the Issues.
I know that at times, these articles (which in the not recent past would be called press releases that masquerade as stories, but I digress) are not real journalism, but it’s striking to me to see a company get an order like this without a history of actually making a product. Nice work if you can get it.
Amazon partners with 10-year-old startup Rivian to provide 100,000 all-electric delivery trucks by 2024. Jeff Bezos says Amazon will get 100 percent of its energy from renewable resources by 2030.
The dialogue at this year’s United Nation’s Climate Summit has a refreshing air of sober reality. The urgency of the climate crisis has by now fully been absorbed, and the conversation has turned to the practical matter of what needs to be done to mitigate the worst impacts of a rapidly changing climate and adapt to that which we cannot avoid.
This means that the time of raised ambitions and grand announcements without clear action plans is also past. That is why we are focusing this week on new and specific contributions both inside and outside our four walls that have the potential to meaningfully impact environmental outcomes. We have been doing this work for more than a decade and, in April of this year, we doubled down on our ambitions with a clear focus on doing more where it makes the most difference — beyond operational changes and increasingly on how we put technology to work for the planet. With that in mind, I’m sharing several concrete developments and markers of progress, including:
- Aligning our operations with a 1.5C climate scenario: It’s clear, given the science, that targets should be even more ambitious than the Paris Accord targets, which mapped to a 2-degree rise. Today, we’re pleased to say that our renewable energy target has been certified by the Science-Based Target Initiative (SBTi) as aligned to a 1.5-degree Celsius future. The certification is meaningful for two reasons — first, we believe that actions should be driven by the best available science, and SBTi uses that as a core criterion for approval and second, because what is most important is not just setting targets — it’s meeting them. Science-based targets offer important measurement and accountability that is critical to assess if we’re making the progress the world needs, in the time frame we have available.
- Extending carbon reduction work into our supply chain: Today, we’re setting a target reduction for our value and supply chain via our new SBTi-certified target, which will see us cut these emissions by at least 30 percent by 2030. Our supply chain referred to in carbon accounting as Scope 3 emissions as indirect carbon emissions associated with anything from manufacturing to customer use of devices to employee airline travel, are far larger than our operational footprint. This is true for many companies and nearly all technology companies. We have already worked to drive transparency in this space, with more than 105 of our top suppliers reporting through the CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), and will look to continue to do more in this space in the coming year.
- Going from carbon-neutral operations to carbon-neutral products: Microsoft’s business operations have operated carbon neutral since 2012. Today we are beginning the journey of extending that to our products and devices with a pilot to make 825,000 Xbox consoles carbon neutral. These are the first gaming consoles to be carbon neutral. While just a pilot, we’re already looking at what we can do to further reduce and neutralize carbon across devices in the future.
- Putting technology in the hands of others for the good of the planet: The investments we’ve made to make our devices and datacenters and supply chain greener are good for the planet but have an exponential impact when the world is using these greener computing resources to power new AI breakthroughs for the planet. That’s why we’re continuing to expand our AI for Earth program with new grant partners like Conservation X Labs, National Geographic Society, and World Resources Institute. We now have more than 430 grantees in 71 countries and just released our first APIs and code on our website and GitHub. The newest members of AI for Earth include the young leaders who participated in the Youth Summit’s Summer of Solutions.
…But progress is indeed possible. That’s not a naïve hope but one based on evidence: technology breakthroughs over the past few years, new work underway across our business, and a growing appetite from customers to digitally transform their businesses with sustainability in mind. We’re celebrating today in New York, and tomorrow we get back to work. I hope you’ll join us.
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Still working on automation because iMacros free doesn’t allow for uploads, nor do they take partial code that doesn’t change every week and inserts the | The Mouse vs The Python code after the part that stays constant. Or at least I haven’t figured it out yet. Plus working on other tricks as well.
This week we welcome Peter Farrell (@hackingmath) as our PyDev of the Week! Peter is the author Math Adventures with Python and two other math-related Python books. You can learn more about Peter by visiting his website.
Let’s take a few moments to get to know Peter!
Can you tell us a little about yourself (hobbies, education, etc):
I was brought up in the US, earned a B.A. in Math and taught Math for 8 years in big and small schools. I always wanted to show students the real-world applications of the stuff they were learning, all of which turned out to be computer-related. I learned to program in my 30’s in Logo by going page-by-page through Samuel Papert’s brilliant book Mindstorms. After that, I taught all my math classes turtle programming. A student turned me on to Python and I never looked back. Away from the computer, I like to play guitar and watch documentaries.
How did you end up writing a book on Python?
I was working one-on-one teaching high school math to a techy student who had learned Python. On top of the good old-fashioned book work, I assigned him programming challenges to automate whatever repetitive task had popped up in the week’s material, like finding the vertex of a parabola or the centroid of a triangle. Eventually, I collected the explorations together into a book and self-published Hacking Math Class with Python in 2015. That got me noticed by No Starch Press and for 2 years we worked on the next level, going further into supercharging math explorations traditional and modern with Python and Processing. Math Adventures with Python was just published in January of this year.
Do you know any other programming languages?
Thanks for doing the interview, Peter!
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French tiny house firm Baluchon recently completed a new model named the Solaris. Despite its country’s strict towing laws that require tiny houses to be small and light, the firm managed to shoehorn in a relatively spacious kitchen and dining room.