Are you looking to integrate / refresh your university studies but you don't have either the funds of the time required to subscribe and attend to university courses? Then you may as well have a look at Coursera and see if you are interested in any of their free courses. Let's have a look at their mission statement first:
We are a social entrepeneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, free. We envision a future where the top universities are educating not only thousands of students, but millions. Our technology enables the best professors to teach tens or hundreds of thousands of students.
And yeah, is that simple. You subscribe, you add a specific course to your list and then you wait for it to begin! I have subscribed to a couple, but the start date is still to be confirmed, so I've found one which is interesting (Machine Learning), although I already did some of this in my MsC. Well, thought it was a good choice to get the student cap back onto my head and give it a go! So far (the course started on Monday, and yes you can still join) the format seems to be quite good, with plenty of video lectures / forums and studying materials (all free, of course). I'll tell you more when I've delved a bit deeper in it. There are plenty of subjects to choose from, and not limited to Computer Science. The courses are organized by well knows university (Stamford and Princeton, just to throw a couple of names in) and yeah, you won't get a degree this way! But if you have one already then it may be just a good way to keep your brain in shape and your knowledges up to date. Have you tried it?
(via Flickr blog). A nice display of night space pictures on Flickr on the European Space Agency profile, taken by astronaut André Kuipers who is now aboard the ISS. Using a special night pod to compensate for the station's movement and therefore allowing quite spectacular pictures to be taken! Have a look, there is plenty of recognizable spots which have been framed by the astronaut.
Although it should not surprise today, it's still quite amazing for me how someone orbiting around Earth can simply update his Flickr account with shots from a Space Station!
The new music video by Paul McCartney, featuring Natalie Portman and Eric Clapton at the guitar
On my Android smart phone, as probably most of you as well, I like to have an application to read trough my feeds and favourite websites / news and so on. This is especially true in the morning when I am travelling to work in the tube, and you have some spare time to kill. I used to rely on Pulse News which used to work flawlessly - at least for me - until some update a few months ago has transformed it from a sleek and sexy application to a cumbersome monster of unresponsiveness! Think about it: on those application what you like the most is the quick opening time, that you can rapidly peek at it and read an article while you are travelling or walking, and you want it to be fast!
Not sure if it had anything to do with my handset (HTC Desire HD), however it simply stopped doing the job for me. So I was eagerly looking for a substitute application, which I ultimately found this morning, and the name is Google Currents. The app promises a lot at least in its headline:
Beautiful, free, favorite publications for your phone and tablet.
Google Currents delivers beautiful magazine-like editions to your tablet and smart phone for high-speed and offline reading.
And I have to say that so far I have been impressed. It's quite easy to compose up your reader, including the feeds and sources, as well as importing anything for Google Reader for instance. The interface is pretty elegant and quick, and includes some features worth of note, such as the "Skip" button when opening and updating a source: the app waits for a few second, then if the loading time is not ideal (for instance you may be in a poor signal area) it provides you a way to skip the refresh and go directly into the articles that (hopefully) you preloaded silently while you were still in a Wi-Fi area.
The app is very quick, the font choices and size are very clean and the articles are split up and composed in a visually attractive way. Looking on the user reviews on the site however the application scores a paltry 3.9 / 5.0 at the moment of writing, and by reading the comments most of this is due to some missing features (read/unread for example) or because it is claimed that the application consumes too much memory when putting together the offline reading edition. I haven't had a chance to prove and test myself the last claim for instance, however so far I am quite happy with it.
And you, what readers do you use for Android? Do you have any specific preference?
Mainly known due to the Principality of Sealand "wannabe" micronation, the Maunsell Sea Forts are a relic of the Second World War. I wouldn't mind going there for a photographic trip! But in the meantime check out some of the pictures from flickr:
The forts were build during the last world war and housed anti aircraft guns emplacements which protected London and the surrounding sea lanes for incoming raids. In the '60s they hosted a number of pirate radio stations, and eventually one of them ("HM Fort Roughs" just off the Suffolk coast) was occupied and declared an "indipendent nation" (The Principality of Sealand), which apparently will host an Online Casino pretty soon! Nowadays they are rusty and gloomy abandoned structures in the middle of the sea! Up for a boat trip anyone? You can find more information and pictures by following this link.
Watch the performance by Jamey Turner playing "Ode to joy" on a glass harp. Happy Easter / Holidays to all!
There are more features available if you pay a fee, but you can get some goodies even with the free option. All of this is easily achieved, once the set up and the features are chosen, by altering the DNS servers associated with your domain and by pointing them to the Cloudflare's DNS servers. Once this is done, you simply tell Cloudflare of the change and wait for the DNS propagation to take effect.
Although there is not much explanation on what is being done technically to meet such amazing results (how often do you hear that you can get the equivalent of a CDN for free?), I am now attempting to confirm Cloudflare's claims with my own measurements. In fact, if you peek into their management dashboard, you can reach a summary analytics panel which tells you how many bad requests they have filtered and how many requests / bandwidth have they "saved" you from actually having to serve! So far it seems that they saved me 40% of the bandwidth and above 60% on the number of requests... which would be pretty amazing if I can back it up with my own measurements!
I am not sure if further details can be found or requested from them, maybe once you are a paying customer? After all although my blog is simply a 'divertissement' I can easily figure out how a professional firm may want instead to have full control over this process and know exactly, for instance, what requests have or haven't been filtered, or what content is being cached and exactly for how long, and what the purging strategy is! Think about it, there is no much damage done if one of my posts doesn't display the latest revision or comment added, but this would be different if one of your product pages the customer is seeing is out of date and does not display the latest special offer you've just set up!
Far from formulating my conclusions, I'll reserve myself the right of playing with this service a bit more and see how it pans out! I have to say that so far the set up was painless (even my grandma could have probably figured out the steps herself) and straightforward.
Do you use Cloudflare? Any experience of yours to share? Feel free to use the comments section!
Quoting a BBC article on Bossi's resignation as the Lega Nord's leader:
Mr Bossi, known as a fierce critic of corruption in public life, denies any wrongdoing himself.
Northern League treasurer Francesco Belsito resigned on Tuesday after prosecutors alleged he had used party funds to pay for, among other things, the remodelling of Mr Bossi's villa and holidays for the leader's children
So yeah, it seems like (if the prosecutors's theories are proven of course) the usual public funds misuse from an italian political party. Public funds which are still granted to all political parties despite of a poll in 1993 where the majority voted to stop them. The funny thing is that this comes from a political party who always cast hate to "non nordic" Italians or, of course, immigrants, saying that they were stealing the North's wealth and resources. Hmm guess what ...
A post on the Google LatLong blog bring very good news to all Londoners. In fact, they have deployed today a new feature which integrates TFL's travel alert and disruption feed into the application (either the browser based or the mobile apps), so that it's now possible to find out straight away about any engineering work or travel disruption that is happening on the Transport For London transit lines. So this includes real time disruption information as well as planned outages such as the ones so frequent during the weekend.
This is avery nice addition to the Google Maps feature set, given that the London Olympics Games are starting very soon and I bet a lot of people will find this information quite handy.
Read more on their blog post.