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Why Trump’s $200M injection of funds into STEM matters

(TECH NEWS) With the injection of funds into STEM areas, alternative education paths, like tech and computer education can get the attention they deserve.

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Unlike previous generations, today there are many different paths to get to a career and not all include the typical four-year degree. Last month, a presidential memorandum was signed to emphasize this notion and create new paths for people to find careers after completing their education.

Similar to previous administrations, the current President and administration supports the STEM program – emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

An official memorandum recently granted $200 million each year to support education grants centered around these subjects to benefit women and minorities. The goal is to encourage these demographics to enter computer and technology based careers.

The funds allow schools to expand their computer programming education, which gives them a chance to start teaching skills, such as coding, at a younger age. Such classes can offer training for technology-based jobs in the future.

This expands the opportunities for students to start their careers straight out of high school rather than obtain a four-year degree.

The funding for STEM programs is meant to encourage women and minorities to enter the tech sector. Recent evaluations of companies in Silicon Valley, ranging from Google to smaller start-ups, has shined a light on the imbalance of diversity in the workplace.

Offering training and opening up classes to various groups of people at a younger age could encourage them to go for these jobs in the future, and hopefully make the technology industry more diverse.

The $200 million investment in STEM will use existing funds from the Education Department, so no Congressional approval is required as plans move forward.

In addition to this grant, other companies like General Motors have pledged their support for the same goal. They believe earlier exposure to coding and computer science will benefit children in the future, and offer them different outlets for their career paths.

The support from larger companies will also draw more funds allocated towards this specific goal.

At this time, there are no official plans for how government plans to achieve their goals. The Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, has control over where and how to distribute these funds in the future.

Natalie is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and co-founded an Austin creative magazine called Almost Real Things. When she is not writing, she spends her time making art, teaching painting classes and confusing people. In addition to pursuing a writing career, Natalie plans on getting her MFA to become a Professor of Fine Art.

Tech News

Anti-surveillance mask – creepy, ingenious, or potentially illegal?

(TECHNOLOGY) Advances in surveillance tech have impressed the masses, but as our cultures consider the risk and reward, some are preparing to protect themselves from overreaching technologies and governments.

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anti-surveillance prosthetic

How many surveillance cameras do you pass when you walk down the street? Most of us don’t know and prefer not to think about it. We know that public and private entities, from social media sites like Facebook, to law enforcement agencies, are using facial recognition software. In most cases, we haven’t actively consented to this surveillance, and we don’t know what will be done with information – but it also seems like there’s not much we can do about it.

Enter artist Leo Selvaggio, who is interested in “increasing the amount of public discourse about surveillance and how it affects our behavior in public space.” Selvaggio has launched a venture called URME Surveillance, whose focus is “protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities.”

URME is doing this is in an unusual, and admittedly kind of unnerving way. The site provides masks, in the likeness of Selvaggio’s face, that you can wear in public to protect your own mug from ending up on file. These “Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetics” are sold at cost – Selvaggio isn’t in it for the profits. There’s a $200 resin prosthetic, a set of 2D paper masks for large groups (protestors?), and a downloadable PDF paper mask that fits together like a 3D puzzle, giving the mask more dimension than the flat, 2D version.

paper anti-surveillance

“Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub,” explains the URME website. “We don’t believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn’t have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public.”

Is this product a genuine solution to non-consensual surveillance? Or is it simply an artist’s attempt to make a statement? The 3D resin mask is fairly realistic, but with the wearer’s eyes peeking out of the mask’s holes, it’s creepy, to say the least.

anti-surveillance face

While the mask may thwart surveillance cameras, it will probably attract attention from other people nearby – so perhaps anonymity isn’t the goal.

It’s more about making sure that your face doesn’t end up in a databank; or at the very least, inspiring conversation about the topic of public surveillance. Potential customers should also be advised that many states and cities have laws against wearing masks in public.

Regardless of the ultimate intention, the fact that Selvaggio is willing to sacrifice his own likeness to Big Brother means that he takes the issue seriously. Cameras linked to facial recognition software will identify and track Selvaggio, regardless of who is under the mask. URME has actually tested the product using Facebook’s “sophisticated” facial recognition software.

Selvaggio even acknowledges that people could use the mask to commit crimes, which could land him in hot water. However, he has “come to the conclusion that it is worth the risk if it creates public discourse around surveillance practices and how it affects us all.”

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Tech News

For meetings that should be an email? There’s an app for that

(TECH NEWS) If you’re tired of having your precious work time taken up by useless meetings, there may be a solution.

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Have you ever attended a meeting that turned out to be a waste of time and set you back on your work? I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that every person reading this article is nodding in agreement.

Meetings, if executed appropriately (and sporadically,) can be effective. However, having weekly (or even daily) meetings that are designed to catch-up or give reports can add up to a ton of wasted time.

Across the board, meetings are generally geared towards productivity, and oftentimes they are counterproductive. So, how can you still get that need for touching-base with employees while still being productive? StandupMeet might just have the answer for that.

StandupMeet is a tool designed to make meetings more productive and agile. According to their statistics, more than $37 billion per year are being spent on unproductive meetings.

The main features include: the digitization of meetings, the instantaneous sharing of minutes, and the ability to assign actions and keep track of progress.

By making the meetings digital, you organize meeting points in one place. Decisions, actions, and key points can be logged in real time and accessed before the meeting.

This makes projects more agile and helps to increase critical success factors.

With instantaneous sharing of minutes, you can collaborate and share minutes of the meeting, key result areas, and action points. This is also done in real time and is shared with colleagues to make sure that each person is on the same page.

Finally, by assigning actions and keeping track of projects helps to ensure data integrity and provides accountability to each team member. Automated reminders are available so that you can spend your time on the more valuable tasks first.

In addition, StandupMeet also offers: project wised meeting, customized meeting types, organized agendas, shareable meeting minutes, accountability, reminders to ensure time is being appropriately applied, recurring meetings, conflict-free meeting scheduling, locations, automated follow ups, automatically tracked action points, and flexibility across time zones.

This can save time and increase productivity for on-site workers and can also be beneficial for teams that are remote.

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Drag keeps your email insanely organized

(TECH NEWS) Determining the best way to organize your tasks is a task in-and-of itself. A new app is here to help you organize your emails.

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Finding the best way to keep yourself organized can be trial and error. And, there’s not one correct method for every element that you have to keep organized in your life. How you track your finances may be completely different from how you organize your art supplies.

All of this can vary based on the person at hand, as well. Some people are visual, some are list-makers, some are a combination of a little bit of everything.

With much of our work and communication being done in the virtual world, one of the more crucial organization concepts to determine is how to organize your email. This is something I just recently found a good-method-for-me after years of everything just being scattered in my inbox.

Now, a new application is available to help people be proactive in their email organization.

Made specifically for Gmail users, the Drag app exists to change the way you organize.

According to developers, “Drag lets you transform your inbox into organized task lists. Sort your emails between pipeline stages (To Do, Doing & Complete) with simple drag ‘n drop, and mark as complete. Change the way you manage your emails, right inside your Gmail inbox.”

The platform is designed similar to a site like Trello, where you have columns of cards (in this case, emails) you can customize.

Drag’s example shows a “To-Do List,” “In Progress,” and “Complete.” This way, users can keep track of what emails still need attention as well as seeing exactly where they’re at in the attention stage.

This is great for someone who has many task-oriented emails. However, if you’re someone like me who has many folders/labels for email organization, the visual aspect may become overwhelming quite quickly.

With that being said, there is still the option to keep the folders/labels while introducing the visual aspect. As someone who is very list-oriented, this could be a beneficial way to enhance organization.

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