This weekend I had the pleasure to attend the CancerDataDive Hackathon hosted by ProductForge at CodeBase. The general idea is gather around a bunch of young enthusiasts for an intensive work and try to come up with cool innovative ideas and proof-of-concepts. This is a great idea for an institute to get developers pay to contribute their skill and capabilities for its endeavor. I also learned that sometimes companies use Hackathon as a recruiting tool. To be honest, I think it’s actually a good idea as you get to see people work and interact with others in something that does feel like fun (as opposed to “feels like work”). I have some reservations as this intensive, incredibly-loud and overly dynamic environment doesn’t really represent real-life (and defiantly not my cup of tea), but still – coping with such intensity should qualify as a good trait.

My 2cents would go for the team-formation-part as I was rushing for another event and I tried to make it as efficient as possible. Fortunately, I immediately targeted the single person who mentioned he had an idea for a project and teamed up with him (later to be joined by 3 other gentlemen). The rest of the people were struggling to both find reasonable teammates but also come up with a startup idea at the same time. I think it might have been much more productive if we could first brainstorm ideas and then create teams based on commitments to ideas rather than “well, these folks don’t strike as psychos, now we need to think what we can”.

For whatever reason, my team decided to base our application on Meteor.js. As I admit that my preferred style of vanilla.js is not feasible for fast-pace project I agreed, hoping to learn more about this framework.

We didn’t try to publish to mobile app, which Meteor presumably allow so I cannot comment on that but I can tell that I found myself cringe as Meteor expect/allows you to write the db-access function in the front-end. In that sense, it doesn’t differentiate between client-side and server-side at all. This flaw isn’t crucial only when you have (near-to) unlimited bandwidth, otherwise your app will falter once you’re actually trying synthesize large volumes of data and send to the front-end only a sub-set. You, as the developer, won’t have the ability to handle it.

We actually came to this problem as reading data from the database happens presumably synchronously but in reality it returns an undefined value only for the function weirdly run in a loop until the data is retrieved. That’s probably one of the worst ways to hand asynchronous command. Instead, I would have advised to pause the code until a response is retrieved (mind not to hog the cpu, though – only the thread) or fork to a separate thread once the data is retrieved.

Another task I found unreasonably daunting is updating a the screen once it already displayed. Yes, I could simply write to DOM myself (which I eventually did) but as Meteor is based on Mustache.js, I didn’t find how to tell the template to re-run itself.

Lastly, accessing component’s variable kept changing depending on the current function – one time it’s this.variable, sometimes it’s this.data.variable and other times it’s Template.instance().variable. Weirdly enough Template.instance() doesn’t indicate which template is being referred so calling a template’s function from a parent function might introduce the wrong template’s scope. Ultimately, for the quick-and-dirty job required, Meteor pulled through, without wasting too much of our time, but for longer hauls I’d rather go Vanilla or any smart framework.

That said, I did enjoy rapid development. It’s incredibly reckless (no time for testing) but I understand why customers would like it as it provides results very quickly. We discussed the financial cost of medical errors, which amounts to roughly 25% of the ministry of health’s budget – and let’s assume this number is right for software bug fixing as well – how much time/resources should we spend on writing tests beforehand? The cap would probably be 25% so I understand why customers would like to save that portion of the money but in reality it’s going to be spent one way or the other.

However, what I learned from this project is that development is incredibly unimportant for hackathons, which is quite sad for the amount of developers that attended – The entire event revolves around thinking about cool ideas and pitching them in  1 minute talk and then a 6 minute presentation. You don’t have to – in fact, you’re expected not to – show your working application as experienced taught them that 72-hrs-worth code is too likely to break down. So my advise is to simply not code at all, rather than make a beautiful mockup and a presentation filled with pictures of cute puglets. Yes, your presentation should talk about your ideas feasibility – both in the sense of development and in the sense of legal issue. That’s why it might be helpful to have an engineer-mentor and lawyer-mentor to give advise but generally – Hackathons are for people who collaborate on ideas and not necessarily on code.

A friend of mine once convinced a foreigner that Hebrew has merely 14 words and the entire language is derived out of these words. I recently wondered how gullible must that foreigner be, or is it actually plausible. Reaching the full spectrum of a reasonable language while being constrained to 14 syllables is a bit far-fetched. But what if it was 14 characters and not words? Can we reduce the English language to a small type-set of 14 characters?
For a stater, let’s say we’re keeping only consonants and we’ll use nikkud (a form of punctuation) instead. like in this example in Hebrew, in which the red dots indicate how each consonant should be pronounced – 

After that, we can omit duplicate consonants while still retaining all the available sounds – “x” can be pronounced with “ks” or “z”, “f” can be pronounced with “ph” and so on.
Talking about this with a friend as I fell in love with the intriguing challenge, as he sent me a video of Karina Galperin explaining why Spanish language should be simplified in order to promote equality. This approach, in fact, sees languages a political tool whereas people might be classified according to their spelling capabilities . Coincidently I came across this video of a thrilling spelling contest and it actually made me cringe at the prospect of a language priding itself in being impossible to spell. Language is a tool aiming to help us communicate with one another – preferably as clear and disambiguous as possible.
I googled for the most efficient language and learned that English is actually considered very efficient, which for me meant the bar is quite low when aiming for “the highest possible degree of logic, efficiency, detail, and accuracy in cognitive expression via spoken human language, while minimizing the ambiguity, vagueness, illogic, redundancy, polysemy (multiple meanings) and overall arbitrariness that is seemingly ubiquitous in natural human language“. This has lead me to Ithkuil which is an engineered language, built to be extremely profound but sadly very complex to actually be use (which reminds me the old joke about IBM: “it may be slow but it’s hard to use”). Engineered languages are unlike our normal everyday languages as they haven’t evolved through the course of centuries to include all sorts of weird exceptions (side-note, Do creationist believe in the evolution of languages?). Instead they were preconceived and presumably their creators could have tackled all the problems beforehand. A language, like a software code designed for Space-shuttles, better be right on the first time as “fixes” take generations.
When engineering a language, one must ask whether it should be a relatable language that sounds pretty much like another language (like all latin-based languages are similar) or should it be secretive that no one else could decipher?
During WW2, the Americans used Navajo-native speakers for radio-communication. Navajo, being completely unrelated to any other European or asian language (and having complex grammar regardless) was impossible for the Japanese to decipher without having a native speaker to simply understand it. The story of the WindTalkers is quite incredible on its own.
We should also ask how deep are we ready to go? simply make a unique typography? Perhaps change the way the sentence structure or even fundamentally change the grammar rules into something completely different. I tried tackling those questions on my presumptuous attempt to simplify the English language with a complete disrespect to traditions or reasons that were lost in days past.
For typography, I decided to use the standard latin characters, because many people know how “m” sounds like as opposed to “צ”. Also, creating a new typography means losing all the years of work of thousands of people who created beautiful latin-based fonts.
There are no capital letters in my language. I don’t think they’re necessary. My only exception is that I would use the uppercase “L” instead of the small-case ambiguous “l”. 
Character-set can either be maximal, with vowels and each character having a single sounds (but not having duplicities) like most of the Cyrillic-script languages; or minimal, using consonants and a method to make stronger and softer (much like having “h” after “s” creates a new stronger sound “sh”). I decided to go with the minimal approach as I figured it will take less time to learn the different characters:
  • My set of 15 characters is “a b g d p h L m n r s t y z”
  • Additionally, b̝ becomes softer, to “v” (like in “victory”).
  • g̝ which normally sounds like in “game”, becomes “j” (like in “James”)
  • k̝ which normally sounds like “kangaroo”, becomes “ch” (like “cheetah”
  • p̝ becomes “f” (like “fantasy”)
  • h̝ becomes “kh” (like “akhmed”) or the Spanish sounds of “j” (like “Javier”)
  • s̝ becomes “sh”
  • t̝ becomes “th”
  • y̝ becomes “w”
  • z̝ becomes “zs” (like “Zsa Zsa Gabor”) or “zh” (like “Doctor Zhivago”)
 As I mention, I decided to omit the vowels (leaving only the consonant “a” for the actual sound that you can hear in “apple”). It’s not a simple decision to make, but I think we can learn to read without the vowels (“ppl, u cn hndl ths!”) and it’ll make the words shorter and therefore more digestible. Instead I’ll have nikkud. For this challenge I used characters that appear in standard fonts (although not accessible in common keyboard layout).
  • b͒= ba, sounds like “dad”. It looks like your eyebrows when you try to put on mascara.
    b̆ = bi, sounds like “dip”. It loos like a smile.
  • b̊ = bo, sounds like “mom”. it looks likes an “o” shape.
  • ḃ = bu, sounds like “room” (side-note: I challenge you to find a 3 letter english word that has “u” in the middle that actually sounds like “u” (as in “room”) and like a short “a” (like “pug” or “mum”). It looks like a dot as it forces to close your mouth to purse your lips
  • b̄ = be, sounds like “bed”, doesn’t really look like anything; it’s just a “meh”-looking nikkud.
  • Lastly, there is an optional tilda below a letter to to hint it’s a long sound in order to help say a word properly, for example the difference between “Daniel” and “Daniel“:  “d̰͒n̆āl” vs. “d͒n̆ā̰l”. It can also be useful for a word like ṡ̰p – “soup” so it wouldn’t sound like “soop”.
Numbers are also very important. Inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s observation on Math and Chinese, I would like my numbers to be short words as well. So rather than re-inventing the wheel, number are borrowed from the Chinese system: 0 (L̆ng) 1 (y̆) 2 (ār) 3 (s͒n) 4 (s̆) 5 (ḃ̝) 6 (L̆ẏ) 7 (k̆) 8 (b͒) 9 (ğ̝ẏ) 10 (s̝̆)
The real magic with the Chinese counting system is that there’s no eleven, twelve or any other strange name for numbers. 34 is simply “three-ten-four” (s͒n s̝̆ s̆) so it’s much easier for children to learn how to count all the way up to 99 and it’s makes their life much easier what trying to do simple arithmetics.
I tried to think of the most important words for communication – Yes (ȳs), No (n̊), I or Me (m̆), you (ẏ) and he/she/it (s̝̄). Plurals will be marked with the suffix ās (“es”) so the plural of y·(“you”) will become “ẏās” (pronounced “you-es”).
My language will not have “a/an” determiners. I think it’s useless as their existence makes the default sentence “I eat apple” meaningless. I believe I can do well without them. “The” determiner will be “t̝˜-” as it must come in conjunction using a hyphen with a noun, for example “t̝̄-d̄yt̆” (“The deity”).
English has 12 different tenses. I would like to have a better way to deal with this. Each verb should end with a suffix indicating its tense and time.
  • We’ll take the noun k̆s (kiss) with its verb k̆s̄ (“Kissing”, note that the name of the verb doesn’t include time-indicator), and we’ll examine all the variations of it.
  • Like in English, my verbs don’t indicate gender but I also omit the “s” that appear on for he/she/it (e.g. “he runs“). 
  • Verbs gets one of three suffixes to indicate the time – d (past), n (present) and L (future). The nikkud indicates whether it’s simple, continuous (equivalent to “ing” suffix in English) or perfect and whether it’s active or passive.
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In English, when asking a question the verb “be” moves to the beginning of the sentence: “She is running” becomes “Is she running?”. As I don’t want the verb “Be”, I’ll use the Spanish technique to indicate the sentence is a question, having an upside-down question at its beginning – “¿s̝̄ r͒n̄n?”, or “¿ḣ s̝̄?” (“who [is] she?”).
On a technical note, in order to write this post, I used a great free “keyboard-layout-editor” app called Ukelele, in order to make my nikkud characters more accessible. removing 10 characters I didn’t need I had a lot more space to prioritize others things (like brackets for example). Being aware it requires adjustment-time, I enjoyed the idea of putting keys according to their usage-frequency (check out Dvorak’s simplified keyboard that unfortunately never caught on with the general public).
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Getting the feel for this application, I played a bit further with the hidden potential of a “better keyboard”. One of the thing I did, as I had plenty of available space on my keyboard, was sorting all the number in a one-hand-accessible layout. I think this should be extremely useful for keyboards that don’t have keypad or lazy people like me who don’t want to move their hand all the way to the keypad –
temp3
A language becomes politically-biased as soon as you have honorary title, like the German “Sie” or the Italian “Lei” or being gender influenced more than it should – just see how much more complicated German has become when every noun has a gender, which to be honest is quite arbitrary (changing its “the” to either “der”, “die” or “das”). So no. My language is equal and neutral balanced. There’s no honorary title and there’s no other change in the language when talking about subject of different gender. “f̆” means ♀ (female) and “m̄” means ♂ (male). And on another side-note, I’m annoyed that most english words for females are derived from their male counterpart – “woman“, “female“. The etymology of  “wife” is actually “shame” and the word “girl”, to be honest, is quite derogatory. “m͒m͒” (pronounced “mama”) would mean “parent” whether it’s the mother, the father, the second father or the second mother (as modern family are much more complicated then a mere “mom” and “dad”.
 
I also decided that my language will not have a word for “god” or “holy”. these will be transversed to “deity” and “divine” respectively. I will also exclude the words “Husband” and “wife” (to be transversed to “spouse”), neither “man” nor “woman” (to be transversed to “person”). Nothing will prevent other people from introducing these words in the future, but at least as far as I was concerned, I think that for a time it would force people into a healthier perspective on religion and gender-equality
So this was my mental-challenge of simplified English. According to WikiHow’s on creating a language I should create a small dictionary to establish my language. I agree, as I think that “playing” with the language will help uncover exceptions or elements left unclear. But as linguistics ain’t my field of expertise and as fascinating (for me at least) as it may be, I should move on and perhaps get back to it if (for whatever reason) this article will gain traction. Personally, I’d love to explore further on the behavior of comparisons, adjective and adverbs in my simplified English. Perhaps in another lifetime.

A while back, I saw a video regarding blood-diamonds, which main conclusion is that blood-diamonds cannot be traced and diamonds cannot be certified to be conflict-free. It occurred to me to create an educational game and expose the developing-world biosphere in which blood diamond and other forms of atrocities can thrive.

With my usual limited warranty warning, I should confess it’s been ages since I played a computer game or an real-time-strategy (RTS) game and I’ve actually never played a Massively multiplayer online game (AKA MMPOG). But that never stopped me from yammering.

I would like to suggest a game that caught my interest. It sounded like something that should be out there so I checked the list of top RTS games of all times and they all classified as either historical, fantasy (i.e. orcs and elves) or futuristic or alternate-universe (honorary mention to World in Conflict). So nothing really fell close to my “modern-day” category. I call it “Warlords: think you can do better?”.

Our game takes places in a developing country and like any RTS, the goals are to gather resources, build an army and vanquish the enemy. The aim of the game however is to provide a realistic portrayal of a warlord’s conflicts and challenging the ability to keep morals and principles in a harsh environment.

In the single player’s first campaign, the player leads a raid-party. Starting off with a group of five foot-soldiers, the first mission is to steal a pick-up truck. The following missions are to expand the army by recruiting soldiers by either sheer volunteerism or with a little encouragement of kidnapping or threatening to burn entire villages if they don’t surrender their juveniles.

Unlike most RTS in which the player has different unique units, in this game, the player gathers an army of people, weaponize by whatever means possible and train them accordingly. This means that anyone can throw a grande if s/he has one, but only an experienced soldier can actually aim, and not kill himself accidentally. Also in this game, a soldier who loose limbs can still fight but they’ll never get back to their full potential. It’ll be up to their warlord to decide whether to leave them to die in the battlefield or carry them to health. Very quickly the player will realize that conscious is an expensive obligation.

The first campaign ends with the successful occupation of a mine, with a small help of a foreign agent, who hopes to bargain a better deal with the rising warlord, rather than the previous mine owner. So The second campaign is all about expanding the mining enterprise which requires, once more, recruiting people, one way or the other, to come and work for the warlord. The player will quickly learn that brute force is one way to do business, and another is padding the pockets of certain interests – such as law-officials or religious-leaders. On the other hand, he might be handed out some interesting offers (and later demands) from foreign business-men that happen to cross her/his path.

I’m not denying the possibly of a benevolent warlord who would try to protect her/his people from the cruelty of the other stakeholders, but s/he’ll quickly find her/himself outgunned and outnumbered as albeit it is possible to walk the paths of righteousness, it is really darn hard.

In the final campaign the warlord’s goal is the conquer the entire country, springing from his successful mining business to the top of food chain, mostly by eliminating anything that stands in her/his path.

The units of the game are mostly foot-soldiers with different weapons – from clubs, machetes, bow and arrows to guns, machine guns, grenades, rocket launchers and flame-throwers. There is also a small assortments of transportations units: motorcycles, pick-up trucks and small planes. In the final campaign, as the warlord fights against the country’s army – tanks, choppers and airplanes also come into play. However, unlike any other RTS game in which the player build a vehicle factory, this game is a bit more realistic in which the user can only order online or simply steal existing units. People, ammunition and vehicles are all limited.

Communication towers plays an essential role in the game as without them the user won’t be able to see enemy units on the map beyond her/his own unit range of view. Radio communications will allow her/him to send off hi AI units to remote missions, trusting them to manage on their own, as s/he won’t be able to get a clear status once they engage in battle.

Another important dimension of the game is the AI-unit’s loyalty, as at any moment unit might desert or turn treacherous if it believes the act will benefit it. But there’s no bar to indicate a unit’s loyalty level, the warlord must trust her/his own instincts for that. There are, however, satisfaction-polls to indicate the general feeling of an area or a squadron. It is the warlord’s responsibility to keep his units in check.

In the multiplayer game the player can band together with other players to create stronger coalitions, but can also tax them for protection money and all sorts of agreements that are not exactly well-balanced but more like real-life relationships between different stakeholders. Army bases exists in the multiplayer game and whoever gets to occupy them benefits from their arsenal (until it runs out of course).

Drawing back to the original point, I hope that the game will enrich the players’ knowledge about the developing countries’ state and how the developed world influences them by supporting such warlords and alike. My 2cents tip for anyone who wants to avoid having blood (diamonds) on their hands is simply stop supporting the diamond industry in general as stop believing that a little shiny rock on a ring means anything. but that’s just me.

On 16th of May 2018, the day the Palestinians refer as “Nakba (Catastrophe) Day” to commemorate their loss in their war against Israel (in 1948), at four minutes past ten o’clock in the morning, the prime minister of Israel’s security cabinet meeting was abruptly interrupted as a secretary barged in and asked for the ministers’ permission to turn on the television. Without waiting for their approval, she grabbed the remote and turned it on. A look of puzzlement spread across all the faces in the room, apart from the secretary that seemed to be in panic more than anything else. “What is the meaning of this?” asked the prime minister. “I don’t know sir, it’s on all the channels” she answered, as she switched between the different Israeli channels, all showed the same broadcast. The prime minister turn to look at the head of Mossad who sat next to him and was already on the phone. “It’s everywhere, sir… we cannot trace the source …. and we knew nothing about this… absolutely nothing”. The prime minister took a deep breath “We’re at war”.

After a couple of hours, that seemed to feel as eternity for everyone in the state of Israel, the broadcasts returned to normal. Special news reports tried to explain what just happened but no one really knew and no one had a clue. What they did know was that for the past couple of hours a presentation showed every Palestinian that died by an Israeli in the past year, in a descending order, most recent at the start. Each person had her (or his) name written in Hebrew and Arabic, her date of birth and date of death, a picture of her as a child and the title “A moment of silence in the memory of – “. Each person was displayed for exactly one minute before moving on to the next person.
But the hijacking didn’t stop at television broadcasts alone – radio stations were also hacked as well as news media websites. Even their twitter account were blocked during that period, twitting off the same information on a minute interval. All attempts to delete the hijacked accounts failed.
At 15:00 a special goverment meeting was summoned to update the prime-minister of any updates regarding this act of terror. “The truth is, prime minister, that we simply don’t know” reported the head of intelligence. The prime minister was outraged “how can this be?!”. “We don’t know, sir, every trace of the attack simply vanished”. “So far no one claimed responsibility nor made demands, sir. The Palestinians themselves are surprised as we are and mostly mumbling about a biblical-miracle” The prime minister took a deep breath and sat back down, talking to everyone in the room. “The ramification of this are horrendous. Clearly this was a warning shot by someone who will not be afraid to use this weapon again. Gentlemen, pay attention as when we’re hacked we have no way to broadcast anything. if someone decided to attack us at that moment, we’ll be blind and mute”. “Sir, the army-radio seemed to be working ok” added the chief of general staff. “This doesn’t help us to inform the public. We have to assume they can use this weapon whenever they want and for as long as they want”. “The only question we must focus on right now is how can we prepare ourselves against the next attack”, he summarized.
And indeed the second attack was soon the follow on the night of the very same day. A broadcast similar to the first was aired. only sharp-eyed were quick to notice is has been prolonged by one minute. A new name was added at the beginning of the list. A 37 years old person from East Jerusalem who failed to uphold the curfew laws that were imposed due to the recent state of war that has been declared in the morning and was shot on his way home. It was later reported by the Israeli news that he was a terrorist heading to attack in Israel but it seemed that the broadcasting didn’t differentiate between innocent Palestinians and terrorists. Once again, no responsibility was claimed nor demands were raised. But something new happened – any Israeli social media source that tried to report about the hack as it occurred was hacked as well, as if the infection was aware of anything viral. But as it became reasonable to assume that the attack will take place for every Palestinian death, the Israeli goverment has reluctantly decided to ease off the curfew laws to a reasonable limit.
After four more additional days of silenced dread, a Palestinian woman has allegedly stabbed a female Israel Defense Force soldier and was “neutralized” as the army phrase the fact she was shot dead. But this time, the Israeli’s army special unit of hackers were ready for the rogue broadcast and after two minutes they managed to scramble the communications and retrieve back the television signal. The prime minister who was updated on the phone sighed with relief, being certain that he had won this war and the Israeli people are safe from the cyber-terror threat that he personally believe originated from Iran (although even he never believed they hold such capabilities and therefore assumed they were aided by China). His victory would play a crucial card in the upcoming election, he was certain. He turned-on the television to see the news reporter gloating over Israel’s triumph in its battle against terror, only to be horrified again when the broadcast came back on a minute later. Only this time it wasn’t just a couple of hours cover the dead Palestinians from the recent year – it was a week long broadcast that covered the past ten years. And sure was it a long week.
The effects were catastrophic – the economy suffered severely as the trust of Israel’s digital capabilities was compromised; attempts to create peer-to-peer broadcasting alternatives failed as they were hacked as soon as their target-audience was too big. And the most disheartening effect was over the morale as more and more Israelis began to question about the pictures of dead children they are being forced to watch on every channel. True not all were actually children, as the right-wing extremists repeatedly pointed out, but many of them were and in the hearts of the Israelis the picture of justifiably dead terrorist was replaced with a child that might have been an innocent victim.
Attempts were made to stabilize the situation but eventually a random right-wing Jewish illegal settler got into an argument with a Palestinian which lead to physical violence and eventually to the death of the Palestinian. After about of month of quiet, the broadcast started again for a week, which forced the Israeli goverment to admit they simply cannot allow themselves any more Palestinian casualties and thus a meaningful peace process was ensued. A Palestinian terror attack on an illegal settlement was soon to follow, which lead to a similar “punishment” to the Palestinians as well, although some (Israelis mostly) might say it has been by far less affective as the Palestinians didn’t have as many broadcasting agencies as Israel have.
On the 4th of July, 2018, a month and a half after the first cyber-terror attacked that puzzled the world, a similar attack was brought down on the American people. Only it was to their horror that they victims displayed were everyone who died in the last year from an American weapon, world-wide – whether it be victims drone-attack, mass-shooting or simply gun misuse accidents. Later, this month was remembered as “The month the hijacked media forced the US to recall its war industry”.
Following suits, other countries’ national media were hijacked as well, crippling the world’s economy and toppling murderous regimes and their people learned about their atrocious ways.
And then I woke up.

My significant other took me to watch the documentary “Embrace“, which essentially talks about women’s indoctrination to despise their own body and encourage them to accept their own imperfectness. Albeit being well-made, I would claim that the movie didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know beforehand but more importantly – it offers a half-baked solution that is bound to fail. I’ll get to that later.

I should state beforehand that my perspective is of a privileged white male so I do think my opinion should be taken with limited warranty, but choosing to shut me out of the discussion will put the reader just where historical privileged people were – refusing to listen to other opinions.
I’m guessing the movie evoked sympathy from girls and helped them think that they are not alone. I don’t know, do really they feel that way? Did we actually manage to brainwash people into this devastating state of thinking that they are so fat or so ugly that no one could ever sympathize with them or feel just like them? that they are utterly alone?
The movie then interviewed a whole bunch of women who learned to embrace their bodies- whether it’s an aging model, a bearded girl, a model with facial paralysis or a girl disfigured by wildfire and so on. they all learned to love their body (with the exception of a woman still fighting anorexia) and they claim to be happy, although I saw the fragility in their confidence as their bodies were still an issue they struggled with, almost on a daily basis.
I did notice that the movie didn’t cover fat people. I mean really fat, obese people. For some reason it seems that girls cannot differentiate the between being “big” and being “fat”. As far as I’m concern (this is my personal definition) fat is person that when standing straight will still have “tires“. The unhealthy kind of fat. Unlike fat people, big people can be extremely fit and healthy. By avoiding this issue, the movie sorta left out the obese teenage girl at a quandary. her size will kill her, should she embrace her body anyhow?
My S.O. noted that it seem that the key to embrace your body, if taking the movie literally, is to have a photoshoot in either your underwear or naked. The girls who did that in the movie seemed quite happy with themselves. To be honest, I doubt the photoshoot is they key, rather then the outcome, but this means, at least for me, that these girls were still looking at the mirror everyday and wondering whether they’re ugly (or trying to convince themselves otherwise).
Women’s magazine be like “page 12: love yourself as you are; page 24: chocolate cake recipe; page 41: diet tips”. Seriously? are you failing to see the hypocrisy here?
Personally I think women are overly obsessed with their body. I don’t take the responsibility off the patriarchy but if women wants to independently snap out of their miserable state, this movie isn’t the right answer for them. Stop talking about your body, nobody cares. Eat real food (and not industrialized sugar-induced food) and do sport. Not because you want to look good, rather than because you want to be fit and healthy. Looking good is more about attitude and smile than keeping your little tummy tucked in. Stop telling young girls that they’re pretty. It doesn’t matter if they are or not. It’s simply not important. tell them that they are smart, kind, brave, whatever. Stop criticizing and judging other girls by the way they look.
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I learned that if there’s someone willing to pay for something, there’ll always be someone willing to make money out of it. And woman’s beauty is a huge industry feeding off women’s obsessions with their look (and the worst part of it is that they actually convince men as well to judge women by their appearance). So I know what I’m preaching is incredibly hard but I think the women’s goal is very clear. If you want magazine to stop writing about body-image issues – simply stop buying them. If you don’t approve photoshopped pictures – boycott those products. The women’s purchase power is huge. More than 50% of all people are women (would you believe that!) so stop treating yourself like a bunch of […], poking at your own wounds and lead the world to where you want it to be – a place where people – men and women are equally judged by their personality and professional merits and not by their body. I don’t care if you’re pretty or not. and you shouldn’t care either.
Last week I attended a weekly workshop that was scheduled to be from 21:30 to 22:30 but for whatever reason it shifted to 22:00 until 23:00. As I pride myself to be in time, I found myself waiting 30 minutes and had to excuse myself as soon as it ended as I had to wake up early. Later I messaged  the organiser privately and complained that the unannounced change was “annoying”.
The organiser replied: “I understand that you’re busy, but we’re busy too […] I cannot promise this won’t happen again”.
It was the “we’re busy too” that made me think that my feedback went amiss, because personally I don’t care that they’re busy. I care about the mutual agreement between us to respect each other’s time which I felt has been breached.
So I wrote down my insights on the proper response to a feedback:
Understand what is the problem. Apparently it was important enough for someone to complain about it. Realise the other person think s/he has a reason to complain, whether this reason is real or not. For example, if someone complains about the quality of your product which tend to break, and you know this is the best product in the market, answer that you, too, are annoyed on the rare occasions you find the product faulty and that’s why you’re making the best of efforts to minimises such incidents. Empathy with the other person is the first step in any relationship.
Don’t try to defend yourself. For example – “I may run late but I provide the best workshops in town”. You messed up. Nothing entitles you to  mess up. True, some accidents are unavoidable but don’t understate them and say they are meaningless because this is not how the other person perceives them.
Don’t give excuses. I don’t care that you’re busy. I don’t care that you’re up to your neck with whatever. There’s no reason for me to pay for your incompetence in scheduling your life, or inability to prepare yourself properly or anything of that sort. Our interaction is based on a certain expectation and if you fail to deliver – I’m not suppose to be the one who pays for it. Again, accidents happen. Acknowledge them and move on.
Don’t criticise in retaliation. There’s a problem (regardless whether it’s real or not) we are trying to address. By shifting the focus elsewhere won’t make it disappear and won’t make the other person happy. Especially if you’re now blaming him/her. Seriously, it’s just immature.
Think of solutions. were you late due to traffic? be sure to include potential traffic in your schedule.Venue wasn’t ready? make sure to arrive ahead of time to see that it is. Acknowledge there’s a problem and see how you can prevent it from happening again. Actually, there are two levels of solutions – The immediate solution for the problem at hand (this specific workshop) and the solution for future potential occurrences of the problem. The other person found this problem important enough to share his/her concern with you, you can show him respect by sharing your solutions with him to see if they satisfy her/him.
That said, there are few insights on giving a reasonable feedback as well:
Don’t feedback what you don’t know. Don’t infer that one time being late equals to constantly late. Focus your feedback and your own personal experience and your own impression.
Don’t expect compensation. It’s just disrespectful. Your feedback is in order to have better service. Asking for a compensation will shift the focus from the problem elsewhere.
 
Prefer face-to-face. I know it’s much harder, but people might read your messages in a different tone that you’d expect and might think you’re joking when you’re not and vice-versa.
Accept that not all people receive feedback well. It’s sad, but that’s the truth. Many people prefer to become defensive and avoid acknowledging their own faults. Not much redemption for this folks, so you can accept them as they are (as they won’t change from your feedback) or you can avoid them.
Good luck
Following are my impressions and thoughts inspired by the “AR in Action” conference at MIT’s media lab to which I was kindly invited to this week by John Werner.
Augmented Reality” is the notion of adding an additional layer of data to our perceived reality. The most popular example for AR, as far as I could tell is Pokemon Go in which the character appear as in our real environment, but as the game was referred to several times during the conference, it is not a real AR since it doesn’t truly interact with the environment, rather than merely use it as a background to present its characters. But this is general idea – have some spectacles or a window (such as tablet) from which one can look at hers or his environment and get more information.
An interesting thought was proposed by Christopher Croteau from Intel that augmentation mustn’t necessarily be visual. It can also be audio – for example a running app that provides you audial coaching is actually augmenting to your running experience. A background music can also be considered as augmentation.
AR’s biggest advantage over VR or the standard way of consuming data is lack of need to disconnect from the presence. Along comes the famous photo of our generation, completely immersed in our mobile devices. completely disconnected from the “now”.
This made me wonder why is it so important to be in the “now”. “now” can be boring (especially now, as I sit in the airport waiting for my flight back home). True, mobile disconnect us for the immediate surrounding people, but then again – what’s wrong with that? Calm down with your “heretic!” calls, I would personally rather talk with someone I care about than someone who just happened to sit next to me, and I’m pretty sure it’s to the preferred choice of all parties involved. If someone prefers his virtual friends over your presence – I guess you’re just not interesting enough. I don’t really think that but I think it’s a thought worth exploring. but how AR can make this better? after all, I will still use technology to talk to my virtual friends and not the present next to me. The only difference will be that I will stare into nothingness like a weirdo instead of a screen.
The conference had plenty of speakers. More than a 100, according to the publications. Some of them preached to the choir about the wonderful potential of AR; others showed their work whether it was related to AR or not (some even without even trying to conceal the fact it’s completely unrelated. I should mention that it doesn’t mean their talks were bad, just unrelated). But from what I gathered, AR has three usages nowadays: (i) Show designs (e.g. architecture‘s work); (ii) provide instructions; and (iii) be cool. Being cool – such as provide 3D Pop-up to QR-code. It’s cool. it’s great advertisement. But being cool is something that has to be unique and it’ll become over-used and boring incredibly fast.
As the AR field is still emerging, the conference was also about VR, which is actually easier to implement, as you don’t need to understand the real environment in which the user is present. But VR has a huge disadvantage – it completely disconnect you from the surrounding. As one of the speaker came to the stage with a holo-sense on, I felt that he’s not really there, and didn’t really see a reason to be “there” as well. I think it has a lot to do with the emotional expression we provide using our eyes and eyebrows and once this is covered – we will just lose our audience.
Robert Scoble spoke about the “beautiful potential” of AR and how it will change our future. He pointed out three scenarios – mall-shopping, hotels and drivings. Personally, by the time AR will actually be useful, automated cars should take over (and every day that passes by and people die in car accidents is a disgrace to humanity). I’m not exactly sure what would he change in his hotel experience but the mall-shopping example bothered me. Especially as I don’t go to malls and I think that “look how much money many can be made of this” is an incredibly bad driver for innovation. It may be efficient but it’s still bad nonetheless.
There were few interesting demos of really useful AR in use for instructions and tutorials. But it reminded me of the story about NASA’s 10m$ investment to invent a pen that can write in zero gravity while the soviets simply used a pencil. It’s ok to experiment with the technology even when it’s not efficient but in order to solve real-world solution, its advantages compared to a low-tech solutions don’t necessarily have enough ROI.
Christopher Grayson suggested using AR to remember names (essentially by providing them digital “name” tags) made me think about the right to stay anonymous. This, should be mentioned one of the important reasons google glass failed. It’s true that I walked in the conference with my name tag on but this is actually an incredibly inefficient technique as it requires the reader to stand in front of me and make sure the tag isn’t flipped over (as it usually does) or covered by my jacket. Most like I’ll know that s/he’s taking interest of me and I would feel less susceptible to scams by a stranger who knows too much about me.
He took pride in having more than 2000 friends on Linkedin, while socially-speaking, we’re able to maintain only up to 1500 friends. I think it requires a redefinition for the word “friend” as it raises the question of the type of relationship one keep with his closest thousand of friends.
A word on technicalities. There were a few talks that were… ill-prepared. Whether it was the technology failing to display the presentation or demo on the big screen, or speaker who clearly didn’t prepare their talk and just rumbled on. Worse were those who weren’t even interested or at least funny. Rightfully said, it was mentioned by the organizers that future conference they’ll “audition” the speakers, so I’m optimistic on that regard.
I didn’t attend any panels but one, which I happened to stumble by as I was waiting for the following talk. This panel was about “Future of AR” and each panelist in his own words said, to my dismay, that the future cannot be predicted. They later continued to rumble but for me the picture was clear that the future is hazy. Personally I think the future of AR lies with an incredible smart AI and image recognition and processing. It will then be able to whisper useful information to help you make conscious decisions. In its evolution AR must and I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is – MUST get rid of the clunky VR goggles, it will never work with them. The alternative should be either the use of normal plain glasses and which the user’s pupils are still visible or at contact lenses that provide this information. Yes, we have a lot way to go, but that’s the future AR should aspire to.
A few honorable mentions: Bob Metclafe (the guy who invented Ethernet) and Dan Bricklin (the guy who invented digital spreadsheets), who didn’t actually talk about AR but are incredibly smart and entertaining; Gordon Bing from EA who showed how AR can be inspired by computer games; And last but not least, the guys from PTC that gave a few demos of AR that actually work efficiently.