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Category Archives: Mind Uploading

Experts praise provinces possible subway upload reversal but caution city on backing Ontario Line – Toronto Star

Posted: October 16, 2019 at 5:26 pm

Toronto will be better off if the provincial government drops plans to upload the TTC subway network, but Queens Park needs to address unanswered questions about the transit line its asking the city to endorse, according to experts and members of council.

As the Star reported Tuesday, sources say provincial and municipal officials are negotiating a deal that would include Premier Doug Fords government abandoning its proposal to take ownership of Torontos subway network, while the city would endorse the provinces contentious Ontario Line plan.

The rail line Ford announced in April would run between the Ontario Science Centre and Exhibition GO station, and replace the council-approved relief line subway.

Finance Minister Rod Phillips acknowledged Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney and Associate Transportation Minister Kinga Surma are in the midst of talks with the city about a change in upload plans. He praised Mayor John Tory for rejecting calls primarily from left-wing councillors opposed to the upload to break off transit talks with the province.

I will wait to see the results of those negotiations, but lets just say were optimistic with those discussions that have been going, and I commend the mayor for taking that step not listening to some of the naysayers on council and continuing to have those discussions ... about getting the job done, getting shovels in the ground, Phillips told reporters at Queens Park on Wednesday.

Mulroney had little to say Wednesday about the potential deal, which the Star understands has not been finalized, as she barrelled past reporters on her way into a cabinet meeting at Queens Park.

Weve always been very clear that were committed to building better public transit options for the people of Ontario and we are working closely with ... city officials. Im confident our conversations are going well, she said.

Steven Farber, a transportation geographer and assisstant professor at the University of Toronto, said the subway upload as proposed by the Progressive Conservatives was lousy to begin with and Im glad to see the government walking back.

Farber who has done an assessment of the Ontario Line for provincial transit agency Metrolinx and also sat on the citys upload advisory panel said he opposed the provincial takeover of the rail network because while the TTC would have continued to operate the lines it would have given ownership of Torontos subway to the province with no structure in place to ensure city representatives had a say in what happened with the system.

While the new proposed deal would involve the province scuttling its plans to take over existing subway infrastructure, the government passed legislation in June allowing it to take control of new transit projects, clearing the way for it to advance the Ontario Line.

The 16-kilometre line would serve the same purpose as the relief line subway of diverting passengers off of the crowded Line 1 (Yonge-University-Spadina), but be about twice as long and use smaller trains that would run more frequently.

Farber said the line is at a very early stage of design and requires more study, and city council will have to push for clarification to some aspects, including how Metrolinx plans to build a large section of it above ground through an already crowded GO rail corridor east of the Don River.

But he said there are a lot of fantastic aspects to the plan, including the fact that unlike the first phase of the relief line it would extend north of Danforth Ave. and serve the lower-income neighbourhoods of Thorncliffe Park and Flemingdon Park.

I think they should be supportive of the Ontario Line in principle while advocating for required changes, he said of the city.

Tricia Wood, a professor of geography at York University and adviser to the CodeRedTO transit advocacy group, said the province hasnt given the city enough information about the Ontario Line for council to make a firm commitment.

That lack of transparency is not a positive thing for transportation planning, she said.

Coun. Gord Perks (Ward 4, Parkdale-High Park), who has been vocally opposed to the idea of the province uploading any part of the existing TTC system, said he is happy to hear it appears to be off the table. But hes not yet satisfied with council supporting allocating funding to the Ontario Line plan.

The upload was always a banana-pants idea and its nice that its gone away, he said.

When asked whether council should endorse the Ontario Line without a full business case from Metrolinx, Perks said: It would be the height of irresponsibility for anyone on council to vote away billions of dollars in Torontos future without real information about what were getting, what the impacts will be and how it compares to other options.

That sentiment was echoed by Ontario NDP transit critic Jessica Bell. The province has said it can build the Ontario Line at a cost of about $11 billion by 2027, but Bell said its impossible to know whether thats true without further study.

It is hard to see how the city or the public can support a line that at this point is still just lines on a map, she said.

Coun. Stephen Holyday (Ward 2, Etobicoke Centre), one of only two council members to vote against a motion in December stating the subway should remain in the citys hands, said he retains an open mind about the merits of an upload.

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He said he feared some on council wouldnt support the Ontario Line merely because they oppose the Ford government.

There will be some members of council that will fight it just for the sake of fighting the government. And thats a shame because we should all be focused on getting something built as fast as possible, he said.

A city and TTC report staff report on the Ontario Line and the rest of the provinces transit plans is expected to go to the mayors executive committee on Oct. 23, and then onto council the following week.

With files from Jennifer Pagliaro, Kris Rushowy, and Rob Ferguson.

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Eyes on the skies: young birdwatchers take flight – The Guardian

Posted: at 5:26 pm

Look up! Is that a kestrel? A swallow? Take note. These sightings are getting rarer. A recent RSPB report blamed the climate crisis for dwindling bird numbers in the UK. But as the number of birds decreases, the number of young bird enthusiasts in the UK is on the rise. Birdwatchers have long endured an unfair reputation for being anorak-sporting twitchers, lumped into the same category as their equally derided cousins, the trainspotters. But times have changed. Now, as a young person, it is becoming acceptable cool, even to show the world the mental and physical benefits of getting outside and observing wildlife.

Today, young birders are using social-media platforms to form positive communities and share their sightings and experiences. Amusingly, most of it happens on Twitter, where birders pledge allegiance to certain species in their bios and discuss rare species with some of the worlds foremost experts. They use apps and spreadsheets, often photographing their finds and uploading pictures to their social channels instantly. Instagram accounts have been created. WhatsApp groups have formed.

Offline, young birders gather at wetland centres, hold meet-ups in areas of natural beauty, organise hiking excursions. They offer each other tremendous support and subscribe to the same defining message: that anyone can birdwatch anywhere. All you need is a pair of eyes and a desire to go outside.

Ive been going out birdwatching with my family since I was a baby. It was OK during primary school, but when I went into secondary I very quickly realised that birdwatching is strange. Id avoid talking about it like the plague. If any of my primary school friends brought it up, Id change the conversation very swiftly. Like most 13-year-olds, I didnt know how to deal with being different from other people, but as Ive got older I dont care any more. You should never stop doing what you love because of other people. It helps that Im friends with people who appreciate going outside and going into nature.

I am now just over 100 bird species away from having seen half of all of the bird species in the world. Ive been going out birdwatching with my family since I was a baby. Its something thats very important in my life, and I cant really picture myself without it. But Im one of the lucky ones, you know? Most people dont have parents who take them out birdwatching for the weekend.

I enjoy the separation from everyday life, I find it really relaxing. Loads of people I talk to always go on about meditating, but I just cant do it, because my brain goes very fast all the time. Going outside is my version of meditation. Its something thats integral to me. Ive recently been visiting potential universities and greenery has been a factor in that. Sheffield has got so many trees and parks everywhere, and it felt really nice.

With the rise of the youth strikes, and Greta Thunberg, the last nine months have been amazing. Everythings just suddenly taking off, after not much happening for years and years. Its been encouraging seeing older people join the movement. Im in a group chat with loads of climate activists, and sometimes, if I feel a bit hopeless, I like to go on there and see how passionate and motivated everyone is to create change.

My Granny and Bampa are really into birdwatching. They travel all over the world and theyre always on the lookout for feathers and different birds to bring back for me. My favourite is the white-tailed eagle feather: its about a foot and a half long, and stiff like wood. Gran found it in Norway. And pheasant feathers, which I like for their patterns, and how flexible they are. Ive got about 20 altogether. I find them stuck in trees, or in dense forest, where they cant really blow around.

We do a lot of hiking and walking. I take my book and my binoculars, which used to belong to my grandfather when he was in the army, and I see what I can spot, and when I get home I look them up online and see what they are. Or I look in my bird book, or on an app called Seek. I want to be a naturalist when I am older, to look at animals, go to different countries, go on telly, tell people how they hunt, how they make their dens, stuff like that. And Id like to learn more about nature at school. Ive got dyslexia and I struggle with reading, so I prefer to be out looking at things.

As a family, weve always enjoyed the outdoors. Every Sunday we go to volunteer and birdwatch at Cley Marshes nature reserve, in Norfolk. Its a salt and freshwater marsh and nature reserve, and it attracts loads of different waders and birds. We have seen shelducks, mallards, avocets, black-tailed godwits, redshanks, lots of different sandpipers At home we see buzzards, kestrels and sometimes red kites.

I look everywhere for birds. Sometimes we stop the car when were driving, if we see a kestrel. We always keep binoculars in the car just in case. Id like to see a snowy owl, or a little owl, in the wild. And Id like to see a green woodpecker. My mum saw two recently, but I wasnt with her.

I record my sightings on a spreadsheet on my dads phone and Ive got my own little notebook, too. I have collected more than 120 bird species so far. I can tell birds apart quite easily they look different, obviously, and they also have different calls. Sometimes I can hear a bird and know what it is. I like the sounds that owls make, and the blackbirds song, which is probably my favourite. But I also like the woodpigeons call. Sometimes I like to draw what I see, and at other times I just draw other random animals.

Anyone can look for birds. Or insects. Go and start in the back garden and work your way out to somewhere else. Look at all the birds and all the insects and try to find some interesting stuff. People seem to see nature, but they dont always appreciate it. Often, were all too busy minding our own business.

Most people in my class like video games. I like some video games, too! But I think a lot of kids would enjoy birdwatching, if they just tried.

For most of my life I have lived in Eastcote, in the London borough of Hillingdon. When I was about seven or eight I looked outside the window and saw lots of pigeons and robins and sparrows, and I thought: Let me explore more. So I got some binoculars, and my uncle bought me a field guide for my 10th birthday, and I just went out to discover the local area.

I realised from a young age that I like nature and wildlife from around the world, but I only started to develop an interest in the wildlife in Britain when I actually looked outside and I realised the wildlife around me was mainly birds. Thats how I got into birdwatching. What most people dont realise is that everything is hiding in plain sight: its all just there, on your doorstep. This is partly why I created an interactive map, Nature Reserves of London. It shows all designated wildlife sites and nature reserves around and throughout the capital, and reveals how much biodiversity there really is.

I think if you live in an inner city, or a built-up place, you just have to look harder. Look at the trees, see if there are ants. And if there are, maybe theres a blackbird. Ive been surprised to see waxwings in Wimbledon.

For young children, Id suggest they get involved with local organisations, or some grassroots projects nearby maybe an allotment site or a city farm. They might not even have a garden, but if they have a balcony, they could maybe make a pond by filling up an old container with water and putting plants in it. Or they could make bird feeders or nest boxes to hang from the outside of their house. Its all to do with passion, and the will to do it.

I only have one or two friends at school who are as interested in birding as me. But birdwatching is so calming. Its wonderful to see the birds and the colours of their plumage and their different sizes and to hear their song.

If people who suffer from mental health issues or people who are on their phones all the time and they dont notice their surroundings actually go outside and look at the trees and hear the birdsong, they will automatically just feel better because theyll be at one with nature. Theyre surrounded by it.

Its always been my view that everyone has a connection with nature: its whether or not you choose to heed that connection that makes the difference. When you take the time to enjoy and be calmed by nature, thats when it starts taking effect and really helping you noticing that there is a soldier beetle on a leaf, and then being curious about what you have seen Asking questions is the best thing you can do in this world.

Something that I would like to emphasise is that you do not need any fancy or expensive equipment to go out into nature. If you have eyes, you can watch birds. If you have ears, you can listen to birds. If you have hands, you can feel bark. If you have an open mind, you can feel those experiences. You dont need too much, just the will to go out.

I go out with no particular aim or reason. I dont go out specifically to see birds, but I love to see them. They are magical to me, and I enjoy their presence.

I hold the firm belief that people thinking that nature is dirty stems from parents saying, Dont pick up that feather, because youre going to get a disease from it. Ive touched countless feathers in my life, and never got sick from them.

When Im out I take field notes. I sit down on a bench, get out a notebook and I write down the date, weather, what Ive seen and what Im feeling my emotions which I then wont forget, because its been internalised through writing. It makes it feel real.

Some of the connection I have is down to my autism; I feel things very strongly. When I feel bark it feels like a lot more than just touching bark it feels like touching a living creature. Sometimes it can be quite overwhelming. We are all part of this Earth. I feel a responsibility towards it.

I was bullied quite heavily a couple of years back. They were saying, Why do you care about nature and all this stuff? and I was like: Wait a second, if I care about nature more than basically everything else, and I dont care about the bullies, it makes them irrelevant.

There is one thing that I am 100% sure of: my love of the natural world it is essential to my wellbeing and my mental health. It is a part of me now. If it was taken away from me, it would be like someone taking the floor from beneath me. I dont know where Id be.

Visit rspb.org.uk for a guide to birdwatching

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Automation And Policy Drive Optimal Hybrid Cloud Spending – The Next Platform

Posted: at 5:26 pm

Hybrid cloud is gaining traction as organizations seek to realize the flexibility and scale of a joint public and on-premises model of IT provisioning while also changing the way their compute and storage infrastructure is funded, transferring costs from a capital expense (capex) to an operating expense (opex). The proportion of organizations with a hybrid cloud strategy grew to 58 percent in 2019, up from 51 percent in the prior year, according to RightScales State of the Cloud 2019 report.

Moving your infrastructure to the cloud, however, wont necessarily guarantee the promised benefits, especially for compute-intensive datacenters. Indeed, there is a danger that the cloud part of a hybrid infrastructure could actually let you down that performance gains and cost-savings are not realized. That can happen if you dont optimize your distributed workloads an area where policy-based automation can really help.

Hybrid cloud solves one of the biggest problems in high performance computing: a lack of capacity. If you are relying purely on your own computing infrastructure then you face a trade-off between workload capacity and computing resources. Take batch processing jobs, for example; these often entail a complex mixture of workloads with different sizes, required completion times, and other characteristics.

Job schedulers seek to fit as many workloads as possible into the computing infrastructure, but job volumes and sizes arent always regular. Too many of them at once create demand spikes that may exceed resources. What happens when there are more workloads with specific machine requirements than there are machines, and those jobs have hard deadlines or high priority? Buying more computers to satisfy rare but critical spikes in demand isnt the answer. That equipment could languish with lower utilization during workload volume valleys.

This is where the concept of hybrid cloud comes in because it lets you extend your existing, on-premise resources. The drivers for this are, typically, the need to ensure additional capacity for peak workloads, to provision more specialized resources than those usually required, or to spin up new resources for special projects. Unlike cloud-only, hybrid cloud uses a common orchestration system and lets administrators move data and applications between the local and remote infrastructures. By moving workloads dynamically to the cloud when local resources are insufficient, companies can build elasticity into their computing environments while avoiding extra capital outlay.

This provides several advantages: users can complete jobs more quickly, and also gain access to resources they might not have locally, such as GPUs, fast block and object storage, and parallel file systems.

While this is all great stuff, the practice of actually implementing bursting can be complex. For example: how can you ensure that youre sending the right jobs to a cloud environment? With so many computing jobs of different sizes and types, making the best use of your local infrastructure and remote cloud resource is like playing a multi-dimensional game of Tetris.

Get it wrong, and youll end up paying too much for your hybrid cloud than you had planned. Moor Insights & Strategy highlights several examples of how costs can run out of control in hybrid cloud environments. Examples include budgeting for ideal capacity without allowing for uncertainty and also forecasting a higher use of the infrastructure than you deliver thereby paying for unused capacity. You might miss smaller costs beyond compute and storage, such as data transfers, load balancing, and application services. Another common cause of cost overruns is failing to de-provision cloud resources once youve finished with them. Hybrid cloud customers can also fall into the trap of using higher-cost platform services such as proprietary public cloud data storage, instead of infrastructure services running open source software on compute and storage services. It can all add up to an unnecessary dent in your budget.

These issues should be top of mind if cost management is as it should be a compelling reason for using the cloud in a hybrid setting. RightScales 2019 State of the Cloud report found that 64 percent of cloud customers in 2019 on average prioritized optimizing their cloud resources for cost savings. This makes it the top initiative for the third year in a row, increasing from 58 percent last year. The number is highest among intermediate cloud users (70 percent) and advanced (76 percent), confirming that the more sophisticated your use of cloud resources, the more complexity you face.

Automation promises to help manage cloud usage and do away with some of these potential problems. An orchestration system that manages workloads can automatically play that game of workload Tetris for you, and if done correctly ensure optimal results. Such a system involves more than a job scheduler, however. These have been around for decades and tend to focus on resource efficiency and throughput of a single, static compute cluster. That means they can be inflexible and reactive, managing batch scheduling according to workload or project priorities or other parameters. Schedulers fail to take into account that cloud resources can be allocated and sized dynamically.

More modern cloud management systems serve multiple computing platforms and have been extended to seamlessly integrate on-prem with cloud. The most mature of these can tie job allocation to application performance and service levels. These systems can ensure that a user or department only gets the level of service that they agreed to, sending resource hogs further down in the queue.

Importantly, these tools can help you manage your costs. They do this by tagging resources when theyre provisioned so that admins know what machine instances are in play and what they are being used for. They can alert operators to such things as instances in the hybrid cloud that have gone unused beyond a certain threshold.

Such tools can also link to a dashboard that will let you peek into your level of cloud usage and see just how much your virtualized resources are costing. Ideally, admins should be able to drill down into usage and expenditure data on a per-project basis.

Rather than simply reporting back on whats happened, this category of tools can be used to enforce policies to control what youre spending on a per-project or even a per-user basis providing alerts when usage is nearing a pre-set budget threshold.

Of course, the best rules dont come out of a box, and somebody has to write them in the form of policies that the cloud manager can use to determine a course of action. Such policies should take several factors into account. For example, applications that are allowed to burst to the public cloud versus those that are not, software licenses allowed to run on only local servers, and data that cannot move beyond the datacenter for compliance or security reasons.

When writing the rules, you also need to be aware of the technical factors that can stymie a jobs journey to the cloud in order to overcome them. These factors include the fact that a workload may rely on output from some prerequisite jobs that are running locally, meaning it must wait to execute or short-running workloads may take too long to provision the cloud-based resources that it needs. Spinning up a machine instance to handle a job may take two minutes, while uploading the data it needs may take five minutes. If the job ahead of it in the local system will finish in 30 seconds, then it makes sense to wait rather than sending the workload to the cloud.

Another factor that a policy could draw on is the direction and pacing of the workload. A policy could decide how many remote cloud server instances to spin up or spin down, based on whether the number of scheduled jobs is growing or shrinking, and how quickly.

Ultimately, this kind of thinking can help you to deliver a reaper policy that deletes server resources at the end of a cloud-based job. The reaper policy helps keep the use of unnecessary cloud resources to a minimum, but if the delta between the workloads in the queue and the available local resource continues to grow, it may wish to keep some machine instances available for new jobs, so it doesnt have to waste time starting new ones.

There is yet another dimension to consider: rightsizing. The cloud manager must spin up the appropriate machine instance in the hybrid cloud to enable the scheduler to dispatch the job. Sizing accuracy is important in the cloud where you pay for every processor core and gigabyte of RAM used.

Admins should therefore use their own custom (and internally approved) instances rather than relying purely on the cloud service providers own default configurations. You should take care to match the core count and memory in those virtual servers to the size of the job so that you arent paying extra for computing and memory resources that arent needed.

Although cloud computing jobs often specify machine instance requirements themselves, savvy admins wont take that at face value. Instead, they will use runtime monitoring and historical analytics to determine whether regular jobs use the resources they ask for. Admins finding a significant difference may specify server instances based on historical requirements, rather than stated ones.

The ideal situation here is a NoOps model, in which policies automate operations to the point where there is little administrative intervention in an increasingly optimized system. The factors contributing to policy execution are many, varied, and multi-layered while the policies themselves can be as complex as an admin wants to make them. The more complex the policies, the more important it is to test and simulate them to ensure that they operate according to expectations.

Policy-driven cloud automation is the key to the successful use of hybrid cloud because it provides a way to tune infrastructure and avoid burning cash on unnecessary cloud resources, such as machine instances and cloud storage. Its the next step towards a mature use of cloud away from simple, discrete jobs to an environment thats an integral part of your data processing toolbox.

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How to get on the front page of imgur – Gamasutra

Posted: at 5:26 pm

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutras community.The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

That is a picture of my post on the front page of Imgur.

That is another picture of another post

Now you see this?

Almost 150,000 views, hundreds of comments, all looking at me and my game. And best yet I didnt have to spend anything to boost my post or convince some features editor to write about it, or pay an influencer. It was just me uploading some pictures and writing a little bit about my game.

This post explains how to do this.

Organic traffic is hard to come by these days. Algorithmic based feeds and paid advertising on Facebook and Twitter has made organic traffic almost impossible now. There are very few places left where a non-curated feed is still possible. imgur is one of those. For now...A few months ago I learned this strategy from a secret Google document that was being passed around by a couple top-tier games marketing people in private forums. This strategy was invented by Adrian Kaiser and his expert marketing team. It has worked for me at least 3 times earning me over 374,000 total views. I thought I would pay it forward and share it with the greater indie game community. I asked Adrian and thankfully he said it was ok to share this. So as a big thank you please follow him on Twitter and his associate who co-developed this strategy andwishlist his game (it comes out October 17th) as a big thank you So here goes...

Before I blow your mind with this strategy let me bring some reality here first. imgur is a top of the funnel marketing tactic. The best you can do is get people who dont know you exist into people who are merely aware of your game. You are not going to sell 1,000,000 copies even If you stay on the front page of imgur for a week. imgur is just once piece in your overall marketing strategy. (If this doesnt make sense or you have never heard of the marketing funnel,please read this article I wrote all about the funnel.) Understanding the funnel is the core to understanding how to do marketing.

imgur can only get someone from "Unaware" to interested. You need to figure out another marketing platform that will move them from interested down to actually buying your game. My choice is an email lists because it works the best, but other options are Steam wishlisting, Joining a Discord, following you onsocial media.

imgur is terrible for making people fall in love with you. For instance imgur has away to follow other imgurians but nobody really uses it. (In fact you can only follow someone from the mobile device). You cant upload a custom profile picture - you have to pick from a couple dozen pre-made icons. If someone likes your post you have no way to contact them again when your game is onsale. This all contributes to the fact that imgur is like the Groundhog Day of social media. Every day is like starting out with 0 following and nobody will remember you exist a day later.

Also, despite this strategy working for me any many others, I have had a lot of posts go nowhere. It still comes down to luck. There are a hundred little factors that could mean your post doesnt go viral. I will discuss what to do if it doesnt work. Just keep in mind this strategyis not a guarantee.

With that pre-amble over, lets look at how to get your game to be on the front page of imgur.

The trick to a viral imgur post is to hit the right tone and subject matter for the imgur audience. You cant just post a random game screenshot with the title of your game and expect it to go viral.

Here are some examples of hooks that work on imgur:Wish fulfillmentDoing something totally counter to societal normsIncredible persistenceJust prettyUnexpected Result

Your title screenshot and sometimes description have to work together to tell the story of why you are posting this to a giant community. You should come off as just a regular Joe or Jane who is trying your best against all odds.There should be a bit of wish fulfillment as if you are doing something that the audience wishes they could accomplish but you are the one trying and maybe possibly able to pull it off (side note you dont have to actually pull it off but the effort is appreciated).

For instance the I quit my job posts are almost a cliche now but it was my best performing post because almost everyone reading it actually wants to quit their job and here you are actually doing it. They are thinking That could be me!

When trying to come up with the hook for your imgur post, think back on your own history. Making a game is so hard to do and you are much further than the average human being. So dont be humble. Just by making some form of game you are extraordinary and worth posting something What have you overcome or done that most people have not accomplished?

Creating an imgur post title like "Hey imgur, this is our new game called " you will get called out for advertising so fast your post wont even get a single positive vote.

Instead, use an emotional headline with some phrases that have worked in the past. Most importantly DONT mention the name of your game.

Here are some successful examples of titles:"I quit my full time job to work on this project""We worked over 3 years to realize our dream game""You're ship-wrecked! Farm, craft and explore a mysterious archipelago to find a way home.""We merged Pokemon and Star Wars in this farming game"

The first question you must ask your self is "what do you want out of this post?"

If you just said Exposure! Boo.

Just making people aware of your game is useless and a waste of a good post. There are so many games out there and so much time before your next release just hoping that a bunch of people will remember who you are is a terrible idea. Exposure is likebuilding a sandcastle while the tide is coming in. When you get to the front page you must convert the traffic into followers on another platform.

Basic copywriting 101 rules apply here

You must tell people what you want them to do. Now dont go overboard and list every single social media platform you are on. Instead, pick your primary platform and tell them a reason why that is the best one.

But here is the tricky part. imgur hates any form of marketing. Every post will have a comment from thebuy-an-ad-guy. He is a guy who comes on to say BUY AN AD and then down vote your post.

Here is an example of buy an ad guy. Look at that, he even made a little image to express how much he hates advertising. You will see this guy a lot, don't worry though.

There are a couple tricks to getting your CTA in without raising the ire of Buy-An-Ad-guy. However, it depends on your strategy so stay tuned.

At this point just decide what action you want the viewer to take.

Every post has a bit of text to accompany each image. There are actually two options depending on your hook and your game.

If your game is remarkable from a single screenshot or video, use this strategy. You have to be really honest with yourself on this one. Your art has to be so good it gets 100s of retweets when you post it on Twitter. Or the gameplay mechanic has to be super unique. Or it has to be some sort of hilarious physics based game. Basically it has to make people stop scrolling just to look at it.

If your game has those qualities, you can get away with Option 1. With this strategy you play the mysterious stranger. Upload your video, trailer, screenshot. Add a great thumb-stopping-headline (that I mentioned above) but dont add a description.

Writing a Call To Action for Option 1

If you have a great looking game, the readers will be super curious and start asking "Cool, what is the name of this game?" and then you can come back with your call to action "Hey thanks! You can wishlist on Steam -> URL".

The benefit of this strategy is you dont come off as an advertisement because your call to action is given only when someone asks for it. People on imgur often read other comments so they are sure to see it.

Examples of Option 1-style posts:

If you dont have a game that is uniquely-stand-out-impressive you can still succeed on imgur (in fact this is the only way I have found success here.) You just need to show more personality and spunk. You are going to be focusing on impressing folks with your writing or with the depth of your game play. Note pixel art games (even if pretty) dont always do well on imgur because the art is much smaller and harder to see when just scrolling through. But a good story can fix that (that is the case with my games).

With the story mode strategy you post lots of images in an album.

Each imagehelps to contribute to your story. The images you pick dont all have to be from your game. You can post pictures of where you work on your game, or photos from your childhood where you are doing something gaming related (imgur catnip). Note though that the first image of your story will be the thumbnail people see on imgur so it should really be a great looking image.

Writing a Call To Action for Option 2

You have to make the CTA all about imgur. So for instance on my post about quitting my job I wrote a CTA that said. I need your help now. I want to keep myself accountable so I setup a "check-in." Every month I am going to send out what I got done, what I struggled with, and how I stayed motivated.Join my mailing list.

That got me almost 500 new email subscribers overnight. Note that I said it is about them helping meand not that I was advertising and nobody said anything about it being an ad.

Here are some other ideas for low-key CTAs:

There is one other alternative where you just post a link to your Steam page to say wishlist it that is effective but you have to time it just right. Dont put your Steam link CTA until you make it to Most Viral I will get into that in the section about timing.

Additional tips for story mode:

Examples of Option 2-style posts:

The First image in your album is the most important because it is the one that will appear on everyones feed and will invite them to click on it.

Tips for your photos:

Tips for Videos

I would also recommend watching Thomas Reisenegger's (@Olima) GDC 2019 talk PRsuccess.gif Get your game across in 5 seconds. Unfortunately the video is behind the GDC Vault paywall. BUT you can download the slides without having full access by clicking here

imgur always seems to delete my tags when I come back to a draft version of my post. So I dont typically add my tags until I am about to hit publish. But while you are writing your post, start thinking about them.

Tags are how imgur will classify your content and it is how users will find yours. Now the most important one is definitely Gaming because there is always the Gaming section pinned to the front page of imgur.

Also check the front page for the main categories such as Awesome, Creativity, Funny. Also check the posts I linked to in this article for additional tag inspiration.

Now the timing and sequence of your launch is very important. Super duper important. I am not kidding here. Read this half of the article very carefully. It was not until I followed these step that I started making it to the front page.

Getting you imgur post to the front page is like launching a multi stage rocket. It is like running a nation wide presidential campaign where you have to attract super delegates and do well in the Iowa caucuses in the lead up to Super Tuesday. It is a carefully orchestrated event so please dont skip these steps or think you can wing it.

To help guide you along this process I made thisgraph based on the data from two different posts of the game Bloom: Memories by@studiofawn. It charts the number of upvotes recieved on every hour after the post went live. The green line chartsthispost that went to the front page of imgur. The white line is for a postthat was live for 3 hours but did not get past "Popular." I don't have a link because @studiofawnended up deleting that post due to poor performance.

As you can see there are specific jumps in the graph that pertain to the pages your post gets assigned to. Also note that some posts just don't have the special "juice" to move up. They just linger there after about 3 hours.

Timing is everything. People read imgur in bed as they procrastinate getting up to go to work and during lunch as they try to mask the loneliness of eating their cold tuna salad by themselves in the company break room.

There is a magical moment on planet Earth when people are eating lunch in Western Europe and waking up on the East Coast. You should try to get your post live during that window. So post within an hour of 7AM EST on Weekdays. I cannot stress how missing this window will make your post go nowhere. If you are off by just a couple hours a post that could have could have gone to the front page will get buried.

Based on where I live I have to make my post at 5am local time. I actually set an alarm, get up add my tags and have it published to imgur by 4:44 AM. Remember how I told you to write your post a day or two ahead of time. This is why.

Note in the following section I will show you hour by hour what you should be doing. T = time because i am just copying what NASA does when they launch a rocket.

When you are ready, click the Share to community Button and confirm you are going to post it:

Your post is now live. Your day is just beginning and will center around watching this number tick up. It is the number of upvotes and it is the barometer of how your imgur post is doing.

When you push publish, your post goes into the new section of imgur. At this point your upvotes are coming in pretty slow. Maybe one every ten to twenty minutes. The folks upvoting right now areimgur diehards who browse this list. You might be a bit afraid that it seems dead. Dont be.

Your goal at this stage is to get 50-100 up votes so you can get on the Popular Tab.

However, you likely wont get to 50 without help. So you need to call in favors from friends and family and most importantly your super fans. Here is who to ask

To reach my super fans I send an update to my mailing list and explain to them exactly what I am doing and why it helps. Again you need a strong call to action explaining what to do. Dont just say check out my post. Instead Say Click this link and if you think it is good, push the upvote button. Doing this helps spread the word and get more people to play my gems.

I got my wife to do it. I told my friends. I told former coworkers. I told my childhood next door neighbor. All you need is 50-100 votes. You probably know 50 people right? I would go ahead and tell them what you are up to a day or two ahead of time because you want them to act right away. Like say hey tomorrow I am going to send you something first thing in the morning. Please do it as soon as you get it is that important super early.

I always tell my favorite game dev forums and Discords about my posts. My local IGDA chapter has its own Discord. So I post it there. I also DM my favorite twitter friends and tell them what to do.

Going from new to popular is the hardest and most time consuming part of this strategy. You need to scrounge for every single upvoteat this point. This is super important. I know it seems like it wont scale but you are trying to get the rocket from sitting on the launch pad to 100 feet in the air. You need every booster you can.

Also dont add your call to action to your post yet. The people who looking at your post at this stage are typically imgur super users and are the ones most likely to police the no marketing culture.Your post is too delicate at this point to survive their downvotes so be on your best behavior.

At just about 2 hours if I see the upvotes are coming in pretty steadily i like to post a link to it on Reddit. You can do it earlier but I like to wait to make sure that the post is getting good traction before I bother doing Reddit. That is because if I do pull the post because it isn't performing I don't have to also pull it from Reddit. This isn't a hard and fast rule though and is worthy of experimenting with.

For reference,here is the corresponding Redditpost I created for my best performing imgurpost.

At around 3 hours after publishing it, a good imgur post will have around50 to 100 upvotes. If you hit this magic numberyour post will appear on the popular tab of imgur. You have achieved the first major hurdle.

However if it has been 3 hours since you made your post public and you still have fewer than 50 votes, your post is not going to make it past the new tab. You can also tell if you are refreshing your post and the upvote count is not changing. You are the white line in our little chart. If it has stopped getting upvotes, kill it here and try to launch your post on another day with a better headline or better first image. I would create a whole new entry instead of republishing the same one. I think imgur posts havesome metadata associated with them that says it already went live and so you will not get the benefit of theranking algorithms.

If at this point you have around 50 upvotes, your post appears in the popular tab. There is no notification from imgur when you do this you will just notice that the upvotes start coming in a lot faster than they did before. Look at the graph at this point and you will see a slight increase in the rate of upvotes.

When you are on the popular tab your up votes will be incoming at a much higher rate. At this point you just have to keep the conversation going. Your primary focus is nowanswering questions and makingsure there are no fires or trolls.

Check Hacker news to see if someone posted a link to your imgur there. Hacker news kinda scared me so I never post my link there but some random hacker did it for me on their own. The people were super nice actually.

Here are the corresponding Hacker News threads that I didn't create

You are now the host of a party that is really moving. You should be going around answering questions, upvoting good comments, flirting, and making sure people dont need anything.

You should alsobe flipping between imgur and Reddit (and maybe hacker news) and sorting comments by latest and thenanswer questions that come in.

Copy the url to your imgur post and paste into the search bar of Twitter -respond as necessary to anyone talking about it there.

Here are some tips for managing the Comments

On popular posts, a lot of people will read all the comments. So if someone leaves a snarky comment and you are snarky back others will see it and it will look bad. I just ignore the trolls and down vote it. You are trying to keep the mood positive in your comments sodont bring the party to a screeching halt by being a jerk.

No matter what, someone is going to leave the comment buy an ad or this seems like marketing. Down vote dont engage with them. Dont even bother asking why they consider it an ad. They wont answer you. Just ignore. If you really need to vent... scream into a pillow or something. But these folks leave these comments on every single post. Seriously just ignore it as one of lifes little inconveniences. The last thing you should be worried about are these people.

Just look, this buy-an-ad-guy even has a cool animated gif to show how much he hates my post.

Look at my post and ctrl f for the word Buy. See. They are there and it didnt matter. Be the bigger person in the room and ignore.

Also now is the time to start pitching your CTA. You should be looking to see if anyone says what game is this? Answer them with a link to your cta.

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How to get on the front page of imgur - Gamasutra

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Supergirl digs into Martian lore with a brotherly twist – The A.V. Club

Posted: at 5:26 pm

As is usually the case with Supergirl, the second episode of the season serves almost as a second half of the premiere. The spider-filled promo for next weeks episode implies the series will be back to more episodic outings soon. But Stranger Beside Me is interested in laying out the major themes, storylines, and relationships of the season. That leaves it feeling both exhilarating and overstuffed. As the title indicates, its an episode all about characters getting to know each other on a deeper leveleither literally meeting each other for the first time or just seeing one another in a new light. But Stranger Beside Me favors breadth over depth, which leaves everything feeling just a little bit too surface.

The most exciting thing about Stranger Beside Me is that it indicates Jonn is going to be a major player this season. Thats a relief after last season largely punted what could have been a fascinating storyline about his life as a private citizen/private detective. But Stranger Beside Me also demonstrates Supergirls weakness when it comes to doling out mythology. Instead of mining Jonns Martian past for pathos, as the show has done before, Stranger Beside Me takes a clunky tell, dont show approach thats confusing rather than compelling.

To be fair, at least some of that confusion is intentional. As Kelly discovers while trying to treat a medical ailment brought on by a Martian curse against brother-on-brother violence, Jonn is missing large swaths of his memory. He doesnt even remember having a brother, let alone that his brother betrayed the Green Martians to the White ones, which is how he ended up in the Phantom Zone as punishment. Were clearly meant to be left with a lot of questions, but its hard to separate the intentional ambiguity from the poorly handled exposition.

The episodes imagery isnt much help. Stranger Beside Me goes out of its way to overexplain basic visualslike the fact that a blank book in Jonns mind palace represents a missing memory. But then it rattles off Martian customs, curses, and history as if they were common knowledge. Martian lore has the potential to be a really compelling element of Supergirls worldbuilding, it just needs way more screentime if the writers want it to land as more than mumbo-jumbo. Youre still in the dark, brother, Jonns as-yet-unnamed sibling intones. Thats pretty much how I feel too.

Elsewhere, Stranger Beside Me contrasts this seasons two new romantic relationships. Alex and Brainy are both anxious about the new ladies in their lives, mostly because their feelings for their respective paramours are so intense. Alex and Brainy are terrified of messing things up, so they wind up pushing too hard. Alex prepares an elaborate homemade breakfast without thinking to check in on her girlfriends dietary restrictions (it turns out Kelly is deathly allergic to blueberries). Brainy, meanwhile, hits it out of the park when he surprises Nia with breakfast burritos, but then takes that as a sign that he must continually re-up his grand gestures in order to make each day the best day ever.

The Alex/Kelly dynamic takes up more screentime, as Alex must eventually suss out that Jonns brother is impersonating her girlfriend. But the Brainy/Nia dynamic is the more interesting one. For one thing, weve seen far more of their relationship play out onscreen, which makes it easier to invest in them as a couple. Kelly wasnt introduced until fairly late into last season and it was with the pretty clear intention of being Alexs love interest, so she still doesnt entirely feel like a three-dimensional character in her own right. She also plays into Supergirls penchant for idealizing Alexs relationships. Kelly and Alex end on a portrait of pitch-perfect domestic bliss thats actually far less interesting than the slight note of ambiguity in Brainy and Nias dynamic.

Lena is another character discovering new things about someone she thought she knew. It turns out it wasnt Leviathan who kidnapped Eve at the end of last weeks episode. Lena abducted her former assistant in order to use her as a test subject in her latest project: Re-programming humanity to rid the brain of malicious traits like violence and betrayal. Lena initially wants to use Obsidians contact lenses as a means of applying her upgrade, but when Andrea finds out that Lena is modifying her tech, she cuts off her supply. So Lena decides to upload her A.I. Hope into Eves body in order to come up with a new plan.

The return of the Eve/Lena dynamic helps flesh out Lenas worldview. For one thing, its a pointed reminder of just how many people have betrayed Lena over the years, which puts her refusal to forgive Kara in a larger context. For another, it demonstrates the fine line that Lena walks with her morality. She takes Eves plea that she wants to become a better person as permission to fix her by any means necessary, including uploading a whole new personality into her body. Its an interesting example of the Luthor familys myopia and egotism aimed in a different direction than just power grabs. Lena may claim her aim is non nocere or do no harm, but by the end of the episode, I cant imagine Eve would agree that she hasnt been harmed.

Its a shame we dont spend more time on Lenas storyline, as its one of the strongest elements of the episode. But the final reveal of the Hope-Eve (Heave?) hybrid is an appropriately chilling image in an episode full of them. One of the most successful things about Stranger Beside Me is the amount of tension director David McWhirter mines from Dana Horgan & Katie Rose Rogers script. The scene where Kara, Alex, and Briany track Jonns brother to a sewer calls to mind any number of horror movies, as does the one where Andrea is just inches away from discovering the secret prisoner Lena has locked in her lab. Stranger Beside Me even ends with an eerie acoustic cover of Girls Just Want To Have Fun, which effectively implies that not everything is hunky dory in National City.

That includes the fact that Kara is struggling to fit in at a new version of CatCo where her boss and co-workers expect her to (gasp!) do her job in a timely and professional manner. She accuses William of being a saboteur, and he certainly doesnt win any points for calling up an old NSA contact in order to track her. Yet the final shot of William volunteering at a soup kitchen implies hes still a stranger Kara doesnt fully understand. No doubt the many pointed mentions of his wife will play a bigger role this season too.

Stranger Beside Me lays out some interesting ideas and themes for the season to explore, it just doesnt entirely function as an episode in its own right. It lacks the seamlessness of the best Supergirl outings, even as it proves willing to shake things up in potentially intriguing ways.

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So, you’re not seeing the eclipse today – Ars Technica UK

Posted: August 25, 2017 at 4:08 am

NASA

Note: The next total solar eclipse visible from Europe will be on August 12, 2026 - and even then, only if you're in parts of Spain, Iceland, or far northern Siberia. The next total eclipse to cover the UK will be on September 23, 2090, when most of us will probably be dead. Unless we've cracked mind uploading by then, which is quite possible.

Despite all the hype surrounding Monday's solar eclipseand it has become nearly inescapablemost Americans will not see the totality. This is unfortunate, because the Sun disappearing during the middle of the day is truly amoving experience. But if you're not seeing it today, don't feel too badyou're not alone.

Only about 12 million people live within the 110km-wide path of totality that runs across the United States, from Oregon through South Carolina. By various estimates, an additional 1.8 to 7.4 million people will travel into the path of totality to view the eclipse. This means only about 6 percent of the United States population will see a total eclipse on Monday.

So if you're missing out, rest assured that most other Americans are, too. Also, you should start planning ahead. Because while it has been nearly a century since a total eclipse spanned the continental United States, we won't wait that long again. Here's a look at what lies ahead.

Unlike a total solar eclipse, during an annular eclipse the Moon is slightly farther away from the Earth, and therefore does not obscure the entirety of the star. This leaves a "ring of fire" around the Moon. And while this is pretty spectacular, it isn't as moving as a total eclipse. However much of the western and southwestern United States will have a good opportunity to view an annular eclipse in just six years, on October 14, 2023.

EclipseWise.com

The country's next opportunity to see a total solar eclipse comes in fewer than seven years, on April 8, 2024. This will be another major event for the United States, with some areas (i.e. Carbondale, Ill.) actually seeing their second total eclipse in just seven years. This is the event to begin planning for now, if you're totally jealous about missing out on Monday.

EclipseWise.com

Admittedly, this one requires a little more planning ahead. This eclipse on August 12, 2045, is essentially a repeat of Monday's eclipse, but with the path of totality a few hundred miles to the south. This will provide exceptional viewing from California to Florida, and the residents of the lunar colony will see a good show as well when they gaze back toward Earth. (Hey, we can hope that humans will have returned to the Moon by then, right?)

EclipseWise.com

Beyond these three events, more eclipses are in the offing. A total eclipse will cross extreme southern Texas, Louisiana, and Florida in 2052 (expect quite the party in the Big Easy). More regional eclipses will hit parts of the United States during the second half of the century.

What seems clear is that the United States is entering a golden age of eclipses, with three total solar eclipses crossing much of the continental United States from 2017 through 2045. Do yourself a favor and make plans to see at least one of them.

This post originated on Ars Technica

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So, you're not seeing the eclipse today - Ars Technica UK

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How to download and send ITR-V to income tax department – Economic Times

Posted: at 4:08 am

Did you know that if you haven't verified your income tax return, the process is incomplete? As per the existing tax laws, a return filed by the taxpayer is not valid until it is verified as filed by the concerned assessee. You can verify your return electronically with an E-Verification Code (EVC) using any one of multiple options available or you can do it physically by sending a signed ITR-V. For those taxpayers who have e-filed their returns, they can e-verify at the time of uploading or after uploading.

However, if you are unable to e-verify for any reason, then you can download the ITR-V, also known as the acknowledgement receipt, from the income tax (I-T) department's website (https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/). You have to sign and send it to the Centralized Processing Centre in Bengaluru by ordinary or speed post within 120 days of uploading your return else your return will be treated as invalid. Do keep in mind that you cannot send the ITR-V through courier. There are several other important dos and don'ts to be followed while sending this ITR-V.

Here is how you can download ITR-V from the I-T department's e-filing portal. Step 1: Login to your e-filing profile.

Step 2: Once, logged in select View Returns / Forms

Step 3: Click on the acknowledgement number of the ITR for which you want to download ITR-V.

Step 4: Once you select the appropriate acknowledge number, you will get a pop-up. From there you should select ITRV / Acknowledgment.

Step 5: The ITR-V will open as a PDF which is password protected. The password is a combination of your PAN (in small caps) and your date of birth. For instance, if your PAN number is ABCD1234A and your date of birth is 01/01/2000, the password to access ITR-V is ABCD1234A01012000

Step 6: Take a printout of the acknowledgement.

Now, before taking a printout of ITR-V and sending it to the CPC, there are a few things you need to be mindful of. If you do not follow these instructions, your ITR-V will be rejected. Here is the list of the dos and don'ts. 1) Make sure you only use an ink jet or laser printer to print the ITR-V form. 2) The form should only be printed in black ink and make sure it is legible. 3) Don't print watermarks on ITR-V; the only permissible one is that of the income tax department which is printed automatically on the form. 4) You should only use A4-sized white paper to print the form. And do not use perforated paper. 5) Don't type anything on the reverse side of the paper. 6) Do not use stapler on ITR-V Acknowledgement. 7) If you are submitting your original ITR along with a revised version, do not print them back to back. Use two separate papers. 8) The form should have your original signature, i.e., it should not be photocopied or scanned. 9) Don't sign or write over the bar code on the form. 10) Please do not submit any annexures, covering letter, pre stamped envelopes, along with ITR-V.

After taking a printout and signing ITR-V, you should send it to this address: Income tax Department - CPC, Post Box No.1, Electronic City Post Office, Bangalore-560500, Karnataka. Once the CPC receives your ITR-V, it will send you an acknowledgement to your registered email ID and will start processing your income tax return. Do check your spam mail to see if it has landed up there. If you have not received the acknowledgement email in 2-3 weeks, you need to check the status in your e-filing account.

In case the CPC has not received your ITR-V, you have to mail it again. Do keep in mind that this acknowledgement, too, needs to reach within 120 days of filing your tax return.

When you get the acknowledgment email from CPC, this is when your tax filing process is complete.

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How to download and send ITR-V to income tax department - Economic Times

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Back-To-School Tech for Students of All Grades – NBC4 Washington

Posted: at 4:08 am

Four Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Series Touch 11-inch notebook computers arranged in a circle resting on a surface. From left to right, a model in tablet mode, a model in tent mode, a model open over 180 degrees using the keyboard as a stand, and a model open over 90 degrees, facing left.

As summer turns to autumn, parents always work to make sure their children have everything they need for a successful school year.

This year, thereare a few tech items that will make it easier and more fun in and out of the classroom, whether the student is headed to a nearby school or a distance college campus.

LOGITCH FLOW MOUSE

In this age of tablets for on-the-go computing, computer mice are all but ignored in favor of touch screens and sketch pens. But what if you want to utilize your tablet while also working on a desktop project?

The MX Master 2S and MX Anywhere 2S series of wireless computer mice utilize a feature called Logitech FLOW, which allows one mouse to control everything on up to three screens on three distinct computers. Open programs that are native to each computer and share the results among them.

Copying and pasting text and sharing images or moving files from one computer to another around was a breeze. No more uploading and downloading through a cloud server to get one project to work with another.

INSPIRON 11 3000 2-IN-1

From home to classroom to study group, students want and need to take their work with them anywhere they go. Portability is just as important as power when it comes to a computer.

The Inspiron 11 3000 combines the performance of a laptop computer with the convenience of a tablet by using a 360-degree hinge that lays out the computer in four different ways. Laptop mode lets students easily work on homework. A tent mode helps those who have to do their own cooking and need some assistance from moms email recipe.

A stand mode is good for watching a gaming stream or a favorite movie. The tablet mode is great for anywhere use where space might be a little cramped.

There is a HD 1366x768 touch display and Waves MaxxAudio Pro for clear audio. Because aesthetics are important when showing off the device to friend, there are four different color choices blue, white, grey, and red.

TOM TOM SPARK 3

Hitting the classroom broadens and strengthens the mind. Hitting the gym or running trail improves the body and get those students out and improving their social skills with others. The Tom Tom Spark 3 is a fitness band that not only tracks what you are doing, it can also show where youve been and how to enjoy the way with great music.

The band has a built-in heart rate monitor, included a multisport mode for swimming, biking and running and more, and a GPS tracker to keep students on track for the fitness goals while they are thinking about the next class assignment and a compass to get them back safely.

The device is light, weighing less than 2 ounces, and is water resistant up to 130 feet. The display is also scratch-resistant, meaning it is tough enough for any adventure.

Music storage for up to 500 songs and a 2-week battery life mean they wont have to slow down until they are ready.

T-MOBILE SYNCUP

Sometimes, new tech not only benefits the students, it can also give parents some peace of mind. The T-Mobile SyncUP Drive does that by helping students keep tabs on the condition of their car while parents can easily spot where their son or daughter is located in emergency situations.

The SyncUp Drive plugs into a vehicles on-board diagnostic system port, and it will collect information about the cars condition, provide maintenance reminders, and alert drivers about potential car trouble. With the app, all that information is easily accessible through a smartphone connected with T-Mobile.

The drive also uses GPS to monitor the cars location for those moments at the football game or concert where they can specifically remember, it was around here someone, maybe over there, where they parked the car.

When a mobile internet plan is added, it can turn the car into a Wi-Fi Hotspot. No more driving around, looking for a coffee shop, when someone needs to look up something on a tablet or laptop.

Roadside assistance is provided by the AllState Motor Club for lockouts, battery jumps, tire changes and more. If you dont have a T-Mobile account, check with your service provider to see if they have a similar device. Verizon, AT&T, and Sirius/XM have devices that will also have some of these features.

TOYSMITH 4M STEM TOYS

Great tech isnt limited to just those high school and college kids. Elementary school kids can also benefit from toys that are fun and can teach them something about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

From growing crystals to building a walking robot to learning about dinosaur DNA, Toysmith 4M uses play to keep students interested and educate them about geology, robots, or paleontology. The kits have won awards for the innovation and inspiration of children into STEM learning.

They are designed for ages 8 and up. Young scientists get the chance to learn more about how things work while thinking they are just playing. They will never see it coming.

D&D BEYOND

School shouldnt be just about work and study. Interacting in a safe and friendly environment with new classmates, roommates, or friends helps build long-lasting bonds and relationships.

Since 1974, Dungeons & Dragons has been a way for people to get together and play in role-playing games, leaving behind the worries and stress of classes for a little while. D&D Beyond is the new digital toolset to open those fantasy worlds to more people while making the game easier to manage for all.

Instead of carrying around all those source and rule books (and who wants to keep carrying around more books), the digital version of the Fifth Edition D&D helps players keep track of their game characters while opening up their imaginations for their adventures.

More content is expected later in the fall that will include official campaigns and storylines. With the new computer and mouse they got, they will be set for dragons, both imaginary and real. Those research paper deadlines can really be aggressive.

Published at 3:51 PM EDT on Aug 24, 2017 | Updated at 4:21 PM EDT on Aug 24, 2017

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Back-To-School Tech for Students of All Grades - NBC4 Washington

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Technology could make us immortal. But there will be consequences. – The Week Magazine

Posted: August 20, 2017 at 6:18 pm

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Immortality has gone secular. Unhooked from the realm of gods and angels, it's now the subject of serious investment both intellectual and financial by philosophers, scientists, and the Silicon Valley set. Several hundred people have already chosen to be "cryopreserved" in preference to simply dying, as they wait for science to catch up and give them a second shot at life. But if we treat death as a problem, what are the ethical implications of the highly speculative "solutions" being mooted?

Of course, we don't currently have the means of achieving human immortality, nor is it clear that we ever will. But two hypothetical options have so far attracted the most interest and attention: rejuvenation technology, and mind uploading.

Like a futuristic fountain of youth, rejuvenation promises to remove and reverse the damage of aging at the cellular level. Gerontologists such as Aubrey de Grey argue that growing old is a disease that we can circumvent by having our cells replaced or repaired at regular intervals. Practically speaking, this might mean that every few years, you would visit a rejuvenation clinic. Doctors would not only remove infected, cancerous, or otherwise unhealthy cells, but also induce healthy ones to regenerate more effectively and remove accumulated waste products. This deep makeover would "turn back the clock" on your body, leaving you physiologically younger than your actual age. You would, however, remain just as vulnerable to death from acute trauma that is, from injury and poisoning, whether accidental or not as you were before.

Rejuvenation seems like a fairly low-risk solution, since it essentially extends and improves your body's inherent ability to take care of itself. But if you truly wanted eternal life in a biological body, it would have to be an extremely secure life indeed. You'd need to avoid any risk of physical harm to have your one shot at eternity, making you among the most anxious people in history.

The other option would be mind uploading, in which your brain is digitally scanned and copied onto a computer. This method presupposes that consciousness is akin to software running on some kind of organic hard-disk that what makes you you is the sum total of the information stored in the brain's operations, and therefore it should be possible to migrate the self onto a different physical substrate or platform. This remains a highly controversial stance. However, let's leave aside for now the question of where you really reside, and play with the idea that it might be possible to replicate the brain in digital form one day.

Unlike rejuvenation, mind uploading could actually offer something tantalizingly close to true immortality. Just as we currently back up files on external drives and cloud storage, your uploaded mind could be copied innumerable times and backed up in secure locations, making it extremely unlikely that any natural or man-made disaster could destroy all of your copies.

Despite this advantage, mind uploading presents some difficult ethical issues. Some philosophers, such as David Chalmers, think there is a possibility that your upload would appear functionally identical to your old self without having any conscious experience of the world. You'd be more of a zombie than a person, let alone you. Others, such as Daniel Dennett, have argued that this would not be a problem. Since you are reducible to the processes and content of your brain, a functionally identical copy of it no matter the substrate on which it runs could not possibly yield anything other than you.

What's more, we cannot predict what the actual upload would feel like to the mind being transferred. Would you experience some sort of intermediate break after the transfer, or something else altogether? What if the whole process, including your very existence as a digital being, is so qualitatively different from biological existence as to make you utterly terrified or even catatonic? If so, what if you can't communicate to outsiders or switch yourself off? In this case, your immortality would amount to more of a curse than a blessing. Death might not be so bad after all, but unfortunately it might no longer be an option.

Another problem arises with the prospect of copying your uploaded mind and running the copy simultaneously with the original. One popular position in philosophy is that the youness of you depends on remaining a singular person meaning that a "fission" of your identity would be equivalent to death. That is to say: If you were to branch into you1 and you2, then you'd cease to exist as you, leaving you dead to all intents and purposes. Some thinkers, such as the late Derek Parfit, have argued that while you might not survive fission, as long as each new version of you has an unbroken connection to the original, this is just as good as ordinary survival.

Which option is more ethically fraught? In our view, mere rejuvenation would probably be a less problematic choice. Yes, vanquishing death for the entire human species would greatly exacerbate our existing problems of overpopulation and inequality but the problems would at least be reasonably familiar. We can be pretty certain, for instance, that rejuvenation would widen the gap between the rich and poor, and would eventually force us to make decisive calls about resource use, whether to limit the rate of growth of the population, and so forth.

On the other hand, mind uploading would open up a plethora of completely new and unfamiliar ethical quandaries. Uploaded minds might constitute a radically new sphere of moral agency. For example, we often consider cognitive capacities to be relevant to an agent's moral status (one reason that we attribute a higher moral status to humans than to mosquitoes). But it would be difficult to grasp the cognitive capacities of minds that can be enhanced by faster computers and communicate with each other at the speed of light, since this would make them incomparably smarter than the smartest biological human. As the economist Robin Hanson argued in The Age of Em (2016), we would therefore need to find fair ways of regulating the interactions between and within the old and new domains that is, between humans and brain uploads, and between the uploads themselves. What's more, the astonishingly rapid development of digital systems means that we might have very little time to decide how to implement even minimal regulations.

What about the personal, practical consequences of your choice of immortality? Assuming you somehow make it to a future in which rejuvenation and brain uploading are available, your decision seems to depend on how much risk and what kinds of risks you're willing to assume. Rejuvenation seems like the most business-as-usual option, although it threatens to make you even more protective of your fragile physical body. Uploading would make it much more difficult for your mind to be destroyed, at least in practical terms, but it's not clear whether you would survive in any meaningful sense if you were copied several times over. This is entirely uncharted territory with risks far worse than what you'd face with rejuvenation. Nevertheless, the prospect of being freed from our mortal shackles is undeniably alluring and if it's ever an option, one way or another, many people will probably conclude that it outweighs the dangers.

This article was originally published by Aeon, a digital magazine for ideas and culture. Follow them on Twitter at @aeonmag.

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Technology could make us immortal. But there will be consequences. - The Week Magazine

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Building an Ultra Saber from Start to Finish – Geek

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As long as I can remember, Ive always wanted to construct my own lightsaber. It always felt like a right of passage. Picking just the right kyber crystal that bonds with you. The hilt itself never felt as important, but now as weve seen Reys journey and trials with Anakins original saber; it just might. Sadly in the real world, the closest we have come to building a fully destructible saber is Allen Pans burning saber and the Arctic Spyder 3 laser. But if youre looking for something you can take into a convention hall without suffering the risks of being escorted off the premises with; then polycarbonate sabers are right for you!

The fine folks at Ultra Sabers got in contact with me to build my ultimate saber. The ultimate fanboy in me lit up. These are not your typical store-bought sabers made of hollow plastic. Ultra Sabers are high-end lightsabers that look as if they were plucked right out of the film! Not interested in a replica? Ultra Sabers can also help you craft unique designs to fit whatever original costume or character concept you have in-store.

Its funny. I immediately had the ultimate saber in mind before going to Ultra Sabers website. Once there I was floored by the amount of customizations I could add to my saber. They even have different chipsets for light and sound FX. Right now theDiamond Controller is their hottest selling saber brand. It is the most powerful and versatile saber controller on the market for custom lightsabers. It recognizes gestures in a sequence of movements that you can program into the Diamond Controller to trigger unique sounds and light effects.

With the budget I was allotted, I becameWatto in a junkyard free for all. Yet, it was the hardest decision ever! I could buy a car and name my first born faster than I could finalize a decision like this. Luckily while making about four or five different sabers with many tabs open, Ultra Sabers staff were quick to message me through their site asking if I had any questions. Boy did I have many. I asked about their Tri LEDs. These are LED diodes instead of just the single diode. The result is a slightly brighter and a fuller blade color. Yes, you can even make your saber the brightest saber at the con! If you are going to be using these sabers for friendly combat, you can even reinforce your sabers carbon tubing and add pointed tips for effect. You also have the option to have the saber flash different colors when it clashes.

These are just a handful of effects the saber has itself. We havent even talked about the hilts. Ultra Sabers sell single blade, double bladed and Kylos cross guard designs, all Custom built to your hearts desire. You can request that your power on button lights up, or maybe you want vent holes right where the beam ignites. It is all up to you and how much you are willing to spend.

So this was the moment. What was I going to go with? I have a collection of Force FX sabers I acquired over the years. As much as I enjoyed them, they were not built for combat. Coming home one late night from work, back in my early twenties; I found my roommates in my dark backyard clashing away with the sabers in hand. Spots where the sabers had taken hits no longer worked so that the beam had gaps in it. To say I was a tad peeved is an understatement. Though with this new saber, I would not be doing much clashing, as I would just be showing off the saber at home or maybe at a convention. My now EX-roommates helped me never want to clash another saber again.

With the same budget, I sat aside a lot of the flashy motion options and put that into a second saber. Thats right. I went with a double-bladed lightsaber! While collecting sabers over the years, I never actually owned one and felt now was the time. But I wanted to theme it to my liking. I always enjoyed Jedi Master Plo Koons orange lightsaber. Though it was technically not canon (even after they put it in all the games, figures, and comics), I felt it was time to finally own an orange saber. But not just a single orange saber, a double-bladed orange saber with the Dark Sentinel V4hilt to give the lightsaber an almost Halloween look to it.

If you buy a double-bladed saber through Ultra Sabers, they are basically two separate sabers held together by a centerpiece. The inside and outside designs were complete, and it was ready for shipment. It only took about a week for the saber to be built and shipped my way. I included rechargeable batteries and chargers with the order so that way the sabers would never dull out. Upon arrival, everything was in one large box heavily wrapped in bubble wrap. It was pure bliss putting the saber together and igniting it for the first time.

Comparing my classic Force FX sabers to the new Ultra Sabers, I found one interesting difference. The travel of the light when first igniting and then extinguishing. Force FX runs LEDs up the carbon tube to give the look of the beam elongating and then diminishing. Ultras LEDs are located in the hilt of the saber and turns on and off like a flashlight. But where the travel light fails, the sound takes over. I ordered my saber with an Obsidian USB V4 Sound chip and boy does it pack a punch next to the Force FX sabers. Now the great thing about this chip is that you can load up different sounds to your saber.

For instance, sounds made in Episode II are slightly different than the ones used in Episode IV. You can hold down the sabers button and pick different sound fonts. The Ultra Sabers community has been uploading new sounds for a while now, and I think that is probably the strongest trait Ultra Sabers has going for it. For young padawans, thelauncher tutorialworks out beautifully on both Mac and Windows platforms. Just simply download the custom sound files from the forums and load them right onto your sabers hilt using a USB mini cable. If you wanted, you could even have your saber become an Owen Wilson meme. The dark choice is completely up to you.

The saber itself is beyond gorgeous and is built exactly to my liking. Another great thing about Ultra Sabers line is once you are done building your custom saber, you can always send it back in to get modifications done when new features are released. You also can also order different parts and add onto the hilt yourself. In the two videos below I show off the Phantom V4 in action, along with an up-close look at the Dark Sentinel V4. I have a creepy Sith idea in mind to accompany the grim saber and cannot wait to get started on it. Definitely give Ultra Sabers site a look soon! They are always trying out new designs and pushing the limits of their craft. Easily one of the best saber manufacturers out there!

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Building an Ultra Saber from Start to Finish - Geek

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