Blog

Open Sourcing Mental Illness

Starting in 2013 as a speaking series by Ed Finkler, Open Sourcing Mental Illness is the largest 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to mental health in tech. They help to help shine a light on problems that have too long been a taboo discussion topic in the workplace. Since its inception Ed has given over 50 talks at conferences, meetups and corporate events spreading the message of OSMI. In addition to the talks, OSMI conducts research by polling the tech community to help gauge the attitudes towards mental health in the workplace and produces documentation to improve the workplace for those that suffer from mental health disorders.

Their 2017 fundraising campaign recently kicked off and they’re goal is to collect $50,000 to continue and expand their work.

Google’s ‘Noto’: Free and readable in over 800 languages

If you’ve ever digitally communicated with someone in another language and you’ve never heard the term “tofu,” you’ve almost certainly experienced what it describes. “Tofu” is the nickname given to the square blocks that appear in text in place of specific characters that your language doesn’t recognize. Now, with the release of ‘Noto,’ Google and Monotype have set out to eliminate “tofu” from getting in the way: simultaneously unifying a multitude of different typesets and encouraging global communication.

‘Noto’, short for “no tofu,” is the result of five years worth of work on the part of its creators to build a universal typeface that can be translated into over 800 languages, including those that are lesser-used or “dead.” On top of the legibility of the typeface, they also set out to make sure that it was aesthetically pleasing and acceptable for each culture. For example, seeking critique and approval from Buddhist monks for the Tibetan version of the design. After such significant research, the resulting product is clean and crisp and highly accessible.

More information, including download instructions here.

 

Tinder Is Coming To a Desktop Near You

Tinder is trading in its signature swipe left for a send message. The company announced that it will be pushing for more dialogue as opposed to mindless swiping in an efforts of finding potential suiters. Its new desktop app will feature a messaging panel that takes up 1/3 of the screen at all times while the user toggles his/her keys to swipe through pictures and profiles as well. This new “talk more, swipe less” method is a more meaningful way of creating relationships based on dialogue rather than instant gratification. Currently, Tinder operates on a trigger, action, and reward basis; hence boredom becomes a trigger, swipe an action, and reward is your libido’s satisfaction or Tinder match. In the desktop app, the swipe is replaced with a meaningful message that is rewarded with a meaningful replay, rather than another mindless swipe. Less regret, more genuine connection. Now to see if Tinder becomes the new OKCupid or eHarmony of the dating world.

A Fearless Girl on Wall Street

Today is International Women’s Day which means more this year than ever. Women have been particularly defiant and vocal in a treacherous political climate. These acts of defiance have also been seen from our male allies. Which is why I was so excited and touched to see this new statute of the “Fearless Girl” posed right in front of the famous Wall Street Bull, sponsored by a predominantly male State Street Global Advisors. This was their way of saying, we hear you, we’re with you and we’re trying to do better. Although McCann (the agency that executed this idea) did get a permit for the statue, it still feels like a gorilla act.

This statue represents the future. This girl will grow up to be the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Neil Degrasse Tyson and I love that she is completely unphased, starring the bull in the face.

 

Never Instagram Your Boarding Pass

I try to travel as often as I can and, inevitably, I end up posting on Instagram at some point along the way. Though the warnings and information have been around for some time, it’s easy to forget the silly ways that people can put themselves at risk. I recently stumbled across an article and video lecture showcasing how simple it was to collect someone’s personal information off of a basic photo of a boarding pass and it took me by surprise. The demo was done in real time and within minutes, the presenter had the contact information and flight details of an unsuspecting Instagram user. With a little hacking know-how, that basic information turned into full access to the users personal information.

It was eye opening to watch and a good reminder to be cautious about what you’re sharing on social media.

Can the EPA Report Yet?

Here at Compose[d] we appreciate science and freedom of information. Being that so many of us are technologists, we think that it’s only important and necessary to speak up when science and open information is infringed upon. To that point, lost in the latest news cycle is the fact that our national scientists are still prohibited from posting to the world about factual information on official government channels.

So, at least in regards to the EPA, we’ve put together a quick tool using one of our own products to monitor when they can post again (sadly as of this post it’s now 11 days and counting where an official government agency is censored from posting relevant and factual information on their channels). Let’s hope that we can hear from the agency in charge of keeping our air clean, our water safe, and the all around environmental health of our nation. Because without any of it, none of is would be able to do the things we do for a living, or enjoy this great country in our free time. In the meantime, you can check to see if the EPA can report at http://cantheepa.report

What Really Killed the Dinosaurs?

According to a new theory dinosaurs may have become extinct because of how long it took for them to hatch. The study used fossilized dinosaur teeth from embryos to gage a time frame of six months, as opposed to other birds which  lasts from 11-85 days. In order to acquire this number, scientists used CT scans of “von Ebner” line patterns on the fossilized teeth. These patterns are similar to tree rings and happen to be present in all animals. Due to this long incubation, the dinosaur eggs were exposed to predators and environmental disturbances and simultaneously was linked to their extinction.

 

 

Annotator.JS

What does it do?

As the name might suggest, this is a JavaScript library that allows users to annotate webpages. The days of bookmarking a webpage and inevitably forgetting what you were thinking at the time seem distant now. However, Annotator doesn’t come in the form of a browser plugin, instead it is included on a webpage and will require some setup.

With Annotator you can make notes for you and a group of others or only yourself–really, it’s pretty customizable.

 

I will update this blog post this weekend when I have a live demo for show.

Giving back with 24 Pull Requests

In the spirit of giving back that accompanies the end of the year, a new project named 24 Pull Requests has launched with the goal of helping developers give back to open source projects. To use the site you login with your GitHub account and choose the languages you’re proficient with, then 24 Pull Requests provides you with a list of suggested projects that you can contribute to on GitHub.

So much of our, or at least my, digital life is made possible because of OSS. Whether it’s an act of good will or an effort to pad your résumé, contributing to the projects that make our professional and personal lives better is a great way to give back to the developer community.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” — Isaac Newton

Just Walk Out with Amazon Go

A few days ago, Amazon announced their grand experiment in brick and mortar grocery and light food shopping called Amazon Go. Basically a shopper checks into the store using the Amazon Go app, puts their items in their bag and “just walks out”. Their items will be tallied and charged when they leave the store.

Of course this seems like the future of shopping to me. I personally like to limit my human interaction when doing things like grocery shopping which is why I use Instacart several times a week. But it does have scary implications for removing the human out of the shopping experience. There will still be jobs for people to stock shelves and prepare food but no more baggers, no more neighborhood checkout girl. We’ll have to see how well the technology works and whether or not people end up wasting time with a buggy UX but for now, it’s a pretty neat idea and I’d love to see how it can be implemented to other traditional retailers.