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James Brockbank

2 months ago

Canonical URLs for Beginners

More on Technology

Stephen Moore

Stephen Moore

5 days ago

A Meta-Reversal: Zuckerberg's $71 Billion Loss 

The company's epidemic gains are gone.

Mid Journey: Prompt, ‘Mark Zuckerberg sad’

Mark Zuckerberg was in line behind Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates less than two years ago. His wealth soared to $142 billion. Facebook's shares reached $382 in September 2021.

What comes next is either the start of something truly innovative or the beginning of an epic rise and fall story.

In order to start over (and avoid Facebook's PR issues), he renamed the firm Meta. Along with the new logo, he announced a turn into unexplored territory, the Metaverse, as the next chapter for the internet after mobile. Or, Zuckerberg believed Facebook's death was near, so he decided to build a bigger, better, cooler ship. Then we saw his vision (read: dystopian nightmare) in a polished demo that showed Zuckerberg in a luxury home and on a spaceship with aliens. Initially, it looked entertaining. A problem was obvious, though. He might claim this was the future and show us using the Metaverse for business, play, and more, but when I took off my headset, I'd realize none of it was genuine.

The stock price is almost as low as January 2019, when Facebook was dealing with the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica crisis.

Irony surrounded the technology's aim. Zuckerberg says the Metaverse connects people. Despite some potential uses, this is another step away from physical touch with people. Metaverse worlds can cause melancholy, addiction, and mental illness. But forget all the cool stuff you can't afford. (It may be too expensive online, too.)

Metaverse activity slowed for a while. In early February 2022, we got an earnings call update. Not good. Reality Labs lost $10 billion on Oculus and Zuckerberg's Metaverse. Zuckerberg expects losses to rise. Meta's value dropped 20% in 11 minutes after markets closed.

It was a sign of things to come.

The corporation has failed to create interest in Metaverse, and there is evidence the public has lost interest. Meta still relies on Facebook's ad revenue machine, which is also struggling. In July, the company announced a decrease in revenue and missed practically all its forecasts, ending a decade of exceptional growth and relentless revenue. They blamed a dismal advertising demand climate, and Apple's monitoring changes smashed Meta's ad model. Throw in whistleblowers, leaked data revealing the firm knows Instagram negatively affects teens' mental health, the current Capital Hill probe, and the fact TikTok is eating its breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and 2022 might be the corporation's worst year ever.

After a rocky start, tech saw unprecedented growth during the pandemic. It was a tech bubble and then some.

The gains reversed after the dust settled and stock markets adjusted. Meta's year-to-date decline is 60%. Apple Inc is down 14%, Amazon is down 26%, and Alphabet Inc is down 29%. At the time of writing, Facebook's stock price is almost as low as January 2019, when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. Zuckerberg owns 350 million Meta shares. This drop costs him $71 billion.

The company's problems are growing, and solutions won't be easy.

  • Facebook's period of unabated expansion and exorbitant ad revenue is ended, and the company's impact is dwindling as it continues to be the program that only your parents use. Because of the decreased ad spending and stagnant user growth, Zuckerberg will have less time to create his vision for the Metaverse because of the declining stock value and decreasing ad spending.

  • Instagram is progressively dying in its attempt to resemble TikTok, alienating its user base and further driving users away from Meta-products.

  • And now that the corporation has shifted its focus to the Metaverse, it is clear that, in its eagerness to improve its image, it fired the launch gun too early. You're fighting a lost battle when you announce an idea and then claim it won't happen for 10-15 years. When the idea is still years away from becoming a reality, the public is already starting to lose interest.

So, as I questioned earlier, is it the beginning of a technological revolution that will take this firm to stratospheric growth and success, or are we witnessing the end of Meta and Zuckerberg himself?

Muhammad Rahmatullah

Muhammad Rahmatullah

1 month ago

The Pyramid of Coding Principles

A completely operating application requires many processes and technical challenges. Implementing coding standards can make apps right, work, and faster.

My reverse pyramid of coding basics

With years of experience working in software houses. Many client apps are scarcely maintained.

Why are these programs "barely maintainable"? If we're used to coding concepts, we can probably tell if an app is awful or good from its codebase.

This is how I coded much of my app.

Make It Work

Before adopting any concept, make sure the apps are completely functional. Why have a fully maintained codebase if the app can't be used?

The user doesn't care if the app is created on a super server or uses the greatest coding practices. The user just cares if the program helps them.

After the application is working, we may implement coding principles.

You Aren’t Gonna Need It

As a junior software engineer, I kept unneeded code, components, comments, etc., thinking I'd need them later.

In reality, I never use that code for weeks or months.

First, we must remove useless code from our primary codebase. If you insist on keeping it because "you'll need it later," employ version control.

If we remove code from our codebase, we can quickly roll back or copy-paste the previous code without preserving it permanently.

The larger the codebase, the more maintenance required.

Keep It Simple Stupid

example code smells/critics using rubocop

Indeed. Keep things simple.

Why complicate something if we can make it simpler?

Our code improvements should lessen the server load and be manageable by others.

If our code didn't pass those benchmarks, it's too convoluted and needs restructuring. Using an open-source code critic or code smell library, we can quickly rewrite the code.

Simpler codebases and processes utilize fewer server resources.

Don't Repeat Yourself

Have you ever needed an action or process before every action, such as ensuring the user is logged in before accessing user pages?

As you can see from the above code, I try to call is user login? in every controller action, and it should be optimized, because if we need to rename the method or change the logic, etc. We can improve this method's efficiency.

We can write a constructor/middleware/before action that calls is_user_login?

The code is more maintainable and readable after refactoring.

Each programming language or framework handles this issue differently, so be adaptable.

Clean Code

Clean code is a broad notion that you've probably heard of before.

When creating a function, method, module, or variable name, the first rule of clean code is to be precise and simple.

The name should express its value or logic as a whole, and follow code rules because every programming language is distinct.

If you want to learn more about this topic, I recommend reading https://www.amazon.com/Clean-Code-Handbook-Software-Craftsmanship/dp/0132350882.

Standing On The Shoulder of Giants

Use industry standards and mature technologies, not your own(s).

There are several resources that explain how to build boilerplate code with tools, how to code with best practices, etc.

I propose following current conventions, best practices, and standardization since we shouldn't innovate on top of them until it gives us a competitive edge.

Boy Scout Rule

What reduces programmers' productivity?

When we have to maintain or build a project with messy code, our productivity decreases.

Having to cope with sloppy code will slow us down (shame of us).

How to cope? Uncle Bob's book says, "Always leave the campground cleaner than you found it."

When developing new features or maintaining current ones, we must improve our codebase. We can fix minor issues too. Renaming variables, deleting whitespace, standardizing indentation, etc.

Make It Fast

After making our code more maintainable, efficient, and understandable, we can speed up our app.

Whether it's database indexing, architecture, caching, etc.

A smart craftsman understands that refactoring takes time and it's preferable to balance all the principles simultaneously. Don't YAGNI phase 1.

Using these ideas in each iteration/milestone, while giving the bottom items less time/care.

You can check one of my articles for further information. https://medium.com/life-at-mekari/why-does-my-website-run-very-slowly-and-how-do-i-optimize-it-for-free-b21f8a2f0162

https://medium.com/life-at-mekari/what-you-need-to-make-your-app-a-high-availability-system-tackling-the-technical-challenges-8896abec363f

Enrique Dans

Enrique Dans

1 month ago

You may not know about The Merge, yet it could change society

IMAGE: Ethereum.org

Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency. The Merge, a mid-September event that will convert Ethereum's consensus process from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake if all goes according to plan, will be a game changer.

Why is Ethereum ditching proof-of-work? Because it can. We're talking about a fully functioning, open-source ecosystem with a capacity for evolution that other cryptocurrencies lack, a change that would allow it to scale up its performance from 15 transactions per second to 100,000 as its blockchain is used for more and more things. It would reduce its energy consumption by 99.95%. Vitalik Buterin, the system's founder, would play a less active role due to decentralization, and miners, who validated transactions through proof of work, would be far less important.

Why has this conversion taken so long and been so cautious? Because it involves modifying a core process while it's running to boost its performance. It requires running the new mechanism in test chains on an ever-increasing scale, assessing participant reactions, and checking for issues or restrictions. The last big test was in early June and was successful. All that's left is to converge the mechanism with the Ethereum blockchain to conclude the switch.

What's stopping Bitcoin, the leader in market capitalization and the cryptocurrency that began blockchain's appeal, from doing the same? Satoshi Nakamoto, whoever he or she is, departed from public life long ago, therefore there's no community leadership. Changing it takes a level of consensus that is impossible to achieve without strong leadership, which is why Bitcoin's evolution has been sluggish and conservative, with few modifications.

Secondly, The Merge will balance the consensus mechanism (proof-of-work or proof-of-stake) and the system decentralization or centralization. Proof-of-work prevents double-spending, thus validators must buy hardware. The system works, but it requires a lot of electricity and, as it scales up, tends to re-centralize as validators acquire more hardware and the entire network activity gets focused in a few nodes. Larger operations save more money, which increases profitability and market share. This evolution runs opposed to the concept of decentralization, and some anticipate that any system that uses proof of work as a consensus mechanism will evolve towards centralization, with fewer large firms able to invest in efficient network nodes.

Yet radical bitcoin enthusiasts share an opposite argument. In proof-of-stake, transaction validators put their funds at stake to attest that transactions are valid. The algorithm chooses who validates each transaction, giving more possibilities to nodes that put more coins at stake, which could open the door to centralization and government control.

In both cases, we're talking about long-term changes, but Bitcoin's proof-of-work has been evolving longer and seems to confirm those fears, while proof-of-stake is only employed in coins with a minuscule volume compared to Ethereum and has no predictive value.

As of mid-September, we will have two significant cryptocurrencies, each with a different consensus mechanisms and equally different characteristics: one is intrinsically conservative and used only for economic transactions, while the other has been evolving in open source mode, and can be used for other types of assets, smart contracts, or decentralized finance systems. Some even see it as the foundation of Web3.

Many things could change before September 15, but The Merge is likely to be a turning point. We'll have to follow this closely.

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Sam Hickmann

Sam Hickmann

5 months ago

Donor-Advised Fund Tax Benefits (DAF)

Giving through a donor-advised fund can be tax-efficient. Using a donor-advised fund can reduce your tax liability while increasing your charitable impact.

Grow Your Donations Tax-Free.

Your DAF's charitable dollars can be invested before being distributed. Your DAF balance can grow with the market. This increases grantmaking funds. The assets of the DAF belong to the charitable sponsor, so you will not be taxed on any growth.

Avoid a Windfall Tax Year.

DAFs can help reduce tax burdens after a windfall like an inheritance, business sale, or strong market returns. Contributions to your DAF are immediately tax deductible, lowering your taxable income. With DAFs, you can effectively pre-fund years of giving with assets from a single high-income event.

Make a contribution to reduce or eliminate capital gains.

One of the most common ways to fund a DAF is by gifting publicly traded securities. Securities held for more than a year can be donated at fair market value and are not subject to capital gains tax. If a donor liquidates assets and then donates the proceeds to their DAF, capital gains tax reduces the amount available for philanthropy. Gifts of appreciated securities, mutual funds, real estate, and other assets are immediately tax deductible up to 30% of Adjusted gross income (AGI), with a five-year carry-forward for gifts that exceed AGI limits.

Using Appreciated Stock as a Gift

Donating appreciated stock directly to a DAF rather than liquidating it and donating the proceeds reduces philanthropists' tax liability by eliminating capital gains tax and lowering marginal income tax.

In the example below, a donor has $100,000 in long-term appreciated stock with a cost basis of $10,000:

Using a DAF would allow this donor to give more to charity while paying less taxes. This strategy often allows donors to give more than 20% more to their favorite causes.

For illustration purposes, this hypothetical example assumes a 35% income tax rate. All realized gains are subject to the federal long-term capital gains tax of 20% and the 3.8% Medicare surtax. No other state taxes are considered.

The information provided here is general and educational in nature. It is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, legal or tax advice. NPT does not provide legal or tax advice. Furthermore, the content provided here is related to taxation at the federal level only. NPT strongly encourages you to consult with your tax advisor or attorney before making charitable contributions.

Jumanne Rajabu Mtambalike

Jumanne Rajabu Mtambalike

2 months ago

10 Years of Trying to Manage Time and Improve My Productivity.

I've spent the last 10 years of my career mastering time management. I've tried different approaches and followed multiple people and sources. My knowledge is summarized.

Great people, including entrepreneurs, master time management. I learned time management in college. I was studying Computer Science and Finance and leading Tanzanian students in Bangalore, India. I had 24 hours per day to do this and enjoy campus. I graduated and received several awards. I've learned to maximize my time. These tips and tools help me finish quickly.

Eisenhower-Box

I don't remember when I read the article. James Clear, one of my favorite bloggers, introduced me to the Eisenhower Box, which I've used for years. Eliminate waste to master time management. By grouping your activities by importance and urgency, the tool helps you prioritize what matters and drop what doesn't. If it's urgent, do it. Delegate if it's urgent but not necessary. If it's important but not urgent, reschedule it; otherwise, drop it. I integrated the tool with Trello to manage my daily tasks. Since 2007, I've done this.

James Clear's article mentions Eisenhower Box.

Essentialism rules

Greg McKeown's book Essentialism introduced me to disciplined pursuit of less. I once wrote about this. I wasn't sure what my career's real opportunities and distractions were. A non-essentialist thinks everything is essential; you want to be everything to everyone, and your life lacks satisfaction. Poor time management starts it all. Reading and applying this book will change your life.

Essential vs non-essential

Life Calendar

Most of us make corporate calendars. Peter Njonjo, founder of Twiga Foods, said he manages time by putting life activities in his core calendars. It includes family retreats, weddings, and other events. He joked that his wife always complained to him to avoid becoming a calendar item. It's key. "Time Masters" manages life's four burners, not just work and corporate life. There's no "work-life balance"; it's life.

Health, Family, Work, and Friends.

The Brutal No

In a culture where people want to look good, saying "NO" to a favor request seems rude. In reality, the crime is breaking a promise. "Time Masters" have mastered "NO".  More "YES" means less time, and more "NO" means more time for tasks and priorities. Brutal No doesn't mean being mean to your coworkers; it means explaining kindly and professionally that you have other priorities.

To-Do vs. MITs

Most people are productive with a routine to-do list. You can't be effective by just checking boxes on a To-do list. When was the last time you completed all of your daily tasks? Never. You must replace the to-do list with Most Important Tasks (MITs). MITs allow you to focus on the most important tasks on your list. You feel progress and accomplishment when you finish these tasks. MITs don't include ad-hoc emails, meetings, etc.

Journal Mapped

Most people don't journal or plan their day in the developing South. I've learned to plan my day in my journal over time. I have multiple sections on one page: MITs (things I want to accomplish that day), Other Activities (stuff I can postpone), Life (health, faith, and family issues), and Pop-Ups (things that just pop up). I leave the next page blank for notes. I reflected on the blocks to identify areas to improve the next day. You will have bad days, but at least you'll realize it was due to poor time management.

Buy time/delegate

Time or money? When you make enough money, you lose time to make more. The smart buy "Time." I resisted buying other people's time for years. I regret not hiring an assistant sooner. Learn to buy time from others and pay for time-consuming tasks. Sometimes you think you're saving money by doing things yourself, but you're actually losing money.


This post is a summary. See the full post here.

Laura Sanders

Laura Sanders

5 months ago

Xenobots, tiny living machines, can duplicate themselves.

Strange and complex behavior of frog cell blobs


A xenobot “parent,” shaped like a hungry Pac-Man (shown in red false color), created an “offspring” xenobot (green sphere) by gathering loose frog cells in its opening.

Tiny “living machines” made of frog cells can make copies of themselves. This newly discovered renewal mechanism may help create self-renewing biological machines.

According to Kirstin Petersen, an electrical and computer engineer at Cornell University who studies groups of robots, “this is an extremely exciting breakthrough.” She says self-replicating robots are a big step toward human-free systems.

Researchers described the behavior of xenobots earlier this year (SN: 3/31/21). Small clumps of skin stem cells from frog embryos knitted themselves into small spheres and started moving. Cilia, or cellular extensions, powered the xenobots around their lab dishes.

The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Dec. 7. The xenobots can gather loose frog cells into spheres, which then form xenobots.
The researchers call this type of movement-induced reproduction kinematic self-replication. The study's coauthor, Douglas Blackiston of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, and Harvard University, says this is typical. For example, sexual reproduction requires parental sperm and egg cells. Sometimes cells split or budded off from a parent.

“This is unique,” Blackiston says. These xenobots “find loose parts in the environment and cobble them together.” This second generation of xenobots can move like their parents, Blackiston says.
The researchers discovered that spheroid xenobots could only produce one more generation before dying out. The original xenobots' shape was predicted by an artificial intelligence program, allowing for four generations of replication.

A C shape, like an openmouthed Pac-Man, was predicted to be a more efficient progenitor. When improved xenobots were let loose in a dish, they began scooping up loose cells into their gaping “mouths,” forming more sphere-shaped bots (see image below). As many as 50 cells clumped together in the opening of a parent to form a mobile offspring. A xenobot is made up of 4,000–6,000 frog cells.

Petersen likes the Xenobots' small size. “The fact that they were able to do this at such a small scale just makes it even better,” she says. Miniature xenobots could sculpt tissues for implantation or deliver therapeutics inside the body.

Beyond the xenobots' potential jobs, the research advances an important science, says study coauthor and Tufts developmental biologist Michael Levin. The science of anticipating and controlling the outcomes of complex systems, he says.

“No one could have predicted this,” Levin says. “They regularly surprise us.” Researchers can use xenobots to test the unexpected. “This is about advancing the science of being less surprised,” Levin says.