Community-run trading posts help Amazon forest people reverse rural exodus

first_imgRiverine communities along the Xingu River basin in the Brazilian state of Pará are running their own trading posts that are significantly boosting the income of their members.By eliminating middlemen, the community-run posts are paying families up to twice as much for their Brazil nuts, rubber and other products collected in the forest.By buying in bulk, the posts are also able to sell essential household goods, such as salt, coffee, soap and boots, more cheaply to their members.These improvements mean that it is now economically viable for the families to go on living sustainably in the forest, and the rural exodus is being reversed. “We used to go into the forest to tap copaiba oil but we had no good way of selling it. The regatão [traveling river trader] paid us whatever he liked and took ages to give us the money. How could we survive like that?” asks Pedro Pereira de Castro, who lives in the Riozinho do Anfrísio Extractive Reserve, located within the Xingu River basin in the Brazilian Amazon.Today this has changed for the better. Pedro Pereira now manages the Paulo Afonso cantina, a trading post inside the reserve. Cantinas were previously controlled by the river traders, but today it is the community that runs them. Local families deliver their production of Brazil nuts, rubber and oils to the cantinas, in exchange for cash or essential household goods, such as soap, salt, coffee and boots.By running the cantinas themselves, these traditional Amazonian communities have eliminated the middlemen and greatly increased their incomes. It’s now possible for them and their children to stay in the forest, maintaining their traditional way of life, while receiving a decent income. No longer are they fleeing to Brazil’s urban areas to try and find work.Pedro Pereira de Castro runs the Paulo Afonso cantina, a trading post, in the Riozinho do Anfrísio Extractive Reserve. Image by Lilo Clareto.Derisvaldo Moreira lives in a land settlement project near Uruará, a town on the Transamazon highway. His community also collects forest products, but sells them to middlemen. He told Mongabay he was amazed at the higher prices the community-run cantinas in Riozinho do Anfrísio pay: “I got two reais a box for my Brazil nuts this year,” or about 50 U.S. cents. “The cantinas paid five.”Today there are 22 community-run cantinas in the region known as the Terra do Meio, the land that lies between the Xingu and Tapajós rivers. Eight are in indigenous territories and run by . The remaining 14 are in extractive reserves, or Resex, which were created in response to demands from traditional populations for a new kind of conservation unit that protected both the forest and their way of life. These are areas where the inhabitants have the right to practice traditional extractivism — hunting, fishing and gathering — as well as subsistence agriculture.The community association representing the 22 cantinas negotiates contracts with private companies and state bodies. It has secured long-term contracts with Swiss-based fragrance and flavor manufacturer Firmenich; Mercur, a Brazilian company promoting innovations; and Brazilian food manufacturer Wickbold. It also sells its products to the municipal governments of Altamira and Vitória do Xingu, and to a Brazilian cosmetics company, Atina, and is in advanced negotiations with the large Brazilian supermarket group Pão de Açúcar and a British cosmetics company, Lush.Together, the cantinas have a working capital of 530,000 reais ($134,000). Their Brazil nut sales from the last harvest alone brought in 1.5 million reais ($381,000).The families carry out simple processing tasks in the forest or at home, and more complex procedures in mini-plants that can be adapted for a variety of tasks. For instance, the same press used to crack Brazil nuts and cacao pods can also be used to extract oil from the andiroba almond or the babassu palm fruit, among other products.Processing babassu oil in the village of Potikro in the Trincheira-Bacajá Indigenous Territory, home to Xikrin Indians. Image by Leonardo de Moura.These new community-run cantinas have a democratic structure. The manager, chosen by the community, is in charge of financial administration and pays the families for their products, either in cash or goods, with prices fixed by the community.It’s a marked difference from previously, when the families were heavily exploited by the river traders. The new structure came about after they sought help from partners like the Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) and the civil nonprofit Institute of Agricultural and Forest Management and Certification (IMAFLORA) to develop an alternative marketing network. They were seeking fair prices and long-term contracts that respected the way the communities functioned, and in tune with their seasonal rhythms.“The creation of a network of community cantinas and mini factories scattered across the region has driven the process by which beiradeiros [riverine families] and indigenous communities have become protagonists in the building of productive systems and the management of the territory as a whole,” Marcelo Salazar, office coordinator of the ISA in Altamira and one of the people who helped set up the network, told Mongabay.The network has helped to stem the rural exodus and reinvigorate extractivism. For instance, more than 150 long-abandoned pathways cut through the forest by rubber tappers have been reopened. “There were a lot of people who didn’t collect forest products any more, as it’s hard work and they didn’t earn much,” Pedro Pereira de Castro said. “Everyone was giving up and doing other things. But today we earn much more and people are going back to extractivism.”Dona Maria Laur, a beiradeira who manages the São Francisco cantina in the Rio Iriri Extractive Reserve, said the project had had a big impact on young people. “I’m amazed seeing young people breaking Brazil nuts because they were turning their back on the forest, staying at home,” she told Mongabay. “But today they spend all day working with their parents, they don’t want to go to the city.”Even those who left previously, she says, are coming back to the forest, drawn by the money they can earn from Brazil nuts. “If the nuts didn’t bring in money, how could we have got our children to come back and work with us?”The forest has gained prestige among young people, she says. “Something that everyone here will tell you is the change in the way youngsters view the forest. Even though people tell them they can earn good money from ranching, no one wants to fell the forest,” Dona Maria said.Dona Maria Laura in her house, which is also a cantina. The map on the wall behind her shows the locations of the other cantinas in the network. Image by Marcelo Salazar/ISA.It’s not only young people whose lives have been transformed, says Augusto Postigo, an anthropologist who is part of the ISA team working with the cantinas. “The strengthening of extractivism in the reserve has turned into a way of managing the reserve, with the reoccupation of land and the strengthening of rights over historical, traditional territory and the monitoring of protected areas,” he said. “At the same time, initiatives have been taken to improve education and health, because this is required to organize production.”Just as important as the economic benefits is the strengthening of the communities and their culture. “Everything is better because we’re all together,” Raimunda Araujo Rodrigues Nonata, who runs the Rio Novo cantina and coordinates the mini-processing plants, told Mongabay. “We’ve become one big family, with the network of cantinas.”It has become easier for communities to be in touch with each other, she says. “Now we have the extractive reserves, everyone has a radio [to communicate over long distances]. Today everyone is talking to each other and this helps us protect our territory. Everyone is paying attention to what is happening, commenting on the arrival of someone from outside.”These developments are disproving the widely held assertion that the extractivism, practiced by traditional communities occupying the Amazon forest is no longer viable in the modern world. These families have over the centuries acquired an extraordinary wealth of knowledge about the forest. But until recently it was difficult for them to use this knowledge, so valuable to efforts to conserve the forest, to make a decent living.Thanks to the families in the Terra do Meio, this is changing. They are giving the world a lesson in how to generate income sustainably from standing forest.Weighing babassu nuts in the mini factory in Potikro village in the Trincheira-Bacajá Indigenous Territory, home to Xikrin Indians. Image by Leonardo Moura. Agriculture, Amazon Agriculture, Amazon Conservation, Amazon People, Conservation, Conservation Solutions, Culture, Environment, Forests, Green, Happy-upbeat Environmental, Indigenous Culture, Indigenous Cultures, Indigenous Groups, Indigenous Peoples, Indigenous Rights, Rainforests, Rivers, Saving The Amazon, Social Justice, Threats To The Amazon, Traditional People, Tropical Forests Article published by hayatcenter_img Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsoredlast_img read more

Misfiring Gunners lack confidence

first_imgIt was Arsenal’s first home loss at this stage of Europe’s elite club competition since Inter Milan won at the Gunners’ old Highbury stadium in 2003.The Emirates faithful responded by booing their team off the pitch at full-time. With frustration growing among the Arsenal fanbase after seven trophy-less years, there are certain to be some difficult questions for Wenger at the club’s annual general meeting on Thursday.Coming just five days after Arsenal produced an equally tame display in a 1-0 loss at struggling Norwich in the Premier League, this lacklustre effort prompted Bould to concede his team was stuck in a rut.“We haven’t played anything like we can, that’s the big disappointment,” Bould said.“We looked jaded. I don’t know why that is. We don’t look confident on the ball at the moment.“It’s not what we are accustomed to. We normally create chances and we need to correct that.“We lack a bit of confidence for whatever reason, but it’s a tough competition. They are a good side.”Bould believes Arsenal’s already fragile confidence is taking a major dent whenever they concede the first goal at present and he hinted changes could be made for Saturday’s clash against QPR.That would likely mean a first appearance for 18 months for England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who is returning from a series of injuries. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could also feature after a hip injury.“In the West Ham game we looked really sharp but since returning from the internationals we’ve looked jaded. We need to pick it up again,” Bould said.“Scoring first will be a major plus for us at the minute. We’ve gone behind in the last five games or so and coming back can be hard at times.“One or two might need freshening up on Saturday. Jack and Alex could be available.”Coming up in the group stages is a tricky trip to Schalke up next and an away game at Olympiakos, where Arsenal have lost in the past. Bould acknowledged the Gunners will have to improve to qualify.“Of course they are frustrated. We are as well. We don’t like losing games,” he added.“We have got nine points to play for and wherever we get the points from doesn’t matter. We will perform a damn sight better than this in the next match.”Meanwhile, Schalke coach Huub Stevens claimed his side’s impressive display didn’t mean they were favourites to maintain their one-point lead over Arsenal at the top of the group.“Arsenal is the favourite in this group. When they have all the players fit they are the favourites,” he said.“We have won two games on the road and we have seven points. I have to be happy but there is still a long way to go.“We will have a chance when Arsenal come to Schalke but we must play better than in the first half here.”Although Stevens insisted Schalke’s victory was well deserved, he conceded they should have made their dominance pay much earlier than the final 14 minutes.“At the start we were a bit cagey and had too much respect for Arsenal. We didn’t show enough courage. They were the better team in the first half,” he added.“But we didn’t allow any chances and in the second half we gave the right answer. We can say 2-0 was a deserved win for us.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000LONDON, England, October 25 – Arsenal assistant manager Steve Bould admitted the Gunners are short of confidence and energy after Schalke inflicted their first home defeat in the Champions League group stages for nine years.Arsene Wenger’s side were out-fought and out-thought by Schalke as late goals from Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ibrahim Afellay secured a shock 2-0 victory on Wednesday that took the Germans top of Group B.last_img read more

Africa’s resources key to unlocking its wealth

first_imgAndre Groenewald from the Department of International Relations said if Africa takes advantage of its vast natural resources, the continent can reach $13-trillion by 2050. (Image: Ndaba Dlamini)• Sandisiwe GugushePublic RelationsBrand South Africa +27 11 712 5007sandisiweg@brandsouthafrica.comNdaba DlaminiAfrica, it seems, is on the rise. The size of the economies of most countries on the continent is growing and economists are predicting that by 2050, Africa’s economy will reach $13-trillion.African countries have to take advantage of these positive developments and communicate the enormous potential that lies within the continent to the world, said Andre Groenewald, director of diplomatic training at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.Groenewald was speaking at a seminar organised by Brand South Africa and the Department of Trade and Industry at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research on Thursday, 27 March. The seminar, attended by African diplomats based in South Africa, focused on, among other issues, Africa’s competitiveness and how strong nation brands contribute to improving the continent’s image.Groenewald said considering the size of the continent “there is room for growth and room for markets in Africa”.He said, “We are the only continent remaining with resources. There was a study done in the UK at the London University where they found out that for an economy to grow to an average of $13 000 income per year per person, that country will use exponential amounts of steel.”Many countries, including India and China, are far off this benchmark. Steel, said Groenewald, “will remain a big issue and there is lots of iron ore resources on the continent”. In this regard, opportunities abound, he said.In addition, a recent study by the World Bank predicts that Africa’s GDP will grow by 6% in 2015. In the past five to 10 years, the continent has been recording a growth of 5% per annum. The only region ahead of Africa in terms of growth is China.“We are the second-fastest growing region in the world. And this says a lot. If you link this to the population and the resources then Africa is indeed rising,” Groenewald said.In 2013, the World Bank also established that among the 15 economies with the biggest improvements in their economies since 2005, five – one third – are in sub-Saharan Africa.“This is a significant finding for the sub-region indicating improving conditions for doing business in a period when negotiations regarding the establishment of a trilateral free trade area encompassing the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, and the East African Community are taking place.”This free trade area, according to Groenewald, will create an integrated market of more than650 million people, and double that number in the US and the European Union.Groenewald said Africa’s poverty rate has also dropped from roughly 44% to 22% in recent years. “While we are not doing well on the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals], we have halved the poverty and this shows that Africa is making progress.”There is “incredible economic activity going on in Africa”, according to Groenewald. In Kenya, for example, a software banking application recently developed has become so popular that there are more banking transactions per year done through the software than that government’s budget.One of the most notable things about Africa is cellphone usage. Groenewald said 71% of adults in Nigeria own cellphones, 62% in Botswana and more than half the population of Ghana and Kenya; a great opportunity for investment in the sector.In addition, the African diaspora contributes $60-billion per annum back to Africa; this is 10 times more than the $6-billion donor money per annum from the International Monetary Fund and six times more than the some $10-billion Chinese foreign direct investment in Africa.“All these are opportunities that Africa needs to brand as a continent. We need to tell the outside world about this,” said Groenewald, adding that South Africa is one good example where there are many good news stories to tell.There are two big growth opportunities that Africa has missed, something that shouldn’t happen again. The first is agriculture, where Africa has the best competitive advantage in the world, according to Groenewald. “Kenya is a good example. They have over the past 10 years become the biggest exporters of flowers. If we can farm flowers then we can farm about anything.”Also, Africa should take advantage of its huge natural energy reserves and market itself competitively to the whole world, said Groenewald.last_img read more

Heello Echoes Twitter, But Adds Group Messaging

first_imgHeello (“HE-low”), a dead ringer for Twitter created by TwitPic founder Noah Everett, just opened to the public. The project was announced a year ago, but it has been silent for most of that time. The original blog post announcing it has been removed (dead link). In fact, the blog link just takes you back to the homepage. Nevertheless, without declaring its intentions, the new Heello has arrived, and it is just like Twitter with one distinguishing feature: group private messaging. You get a user name with an @ sign, and you @ mention people. No hashtags, though. Just like on Twitter, you can choose your basic design and set a background image. Instead of tweets, you post pings. They’re 140 characters long. You have the option to share them to Twitter or Facebook. You can add a photo, which the posted ping will display as an awkwardly cropped version inside the post. You don’t follow. You listen. Listeners, not followers. Get it? And it really has Twitter beat on this one: Instead of the awkward word retweet, on Heello, you echo. You can also have a private conversation with an individual or a group. The group conversations are the one feature that Twitter doesn’t have. But is that reason enough to launch a service that’s otherwise essentially the same (except that it lacks hashtags)?When Everett first talked about Heello, it sounded like it would be something new. Last August, a year ago tomorrow, Everett told the New York Times Heello was “tackling communications with groups, … building services that help bring teams together online.” Group DMs are the only feature in Heello as it launched today that would seem to address that problem, and it’s not exactly a novel idea (see Facebook and Google Plus). Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… So what gives? Where is Heello going with this?On August first, the Heello Twitter account posted this ambiguous message:The “new Heello” sure looks like the old Twitter.It’s worth remarking that the launch of this Twitter clone coincides with Twitter’s launch of its native photo-sharing service. Everett’s other company, TwitPic, has been a default option for uploading photos from many Twitter apps, including official ones, but now Twitter’s in-house photo uploads will threaten that status. In exchange for Twitter building in TwitPic’s functionality, Everett has released an app that copies Twitter. Everett tells VentureBeat that this was “a complete coincidence,” but he’s “glad the timing happened that way.” He goes on in that interview to hint at some upcoming features, all of which sound Twitter-like. Instead of lists, for example, Heello will have channels.Currently, it’s a Web-only app, which is limiting. The homepage says mobile apps are “coming soon.” The main stream has three tabs: your pings, which is the feed of the people to whom you are listening, your replies, and a tab called “What’s Happening?”, which apparently streams all pings live. It tends to lag rather far behind, but right now, it’s a good way to discover people to follow. I mean listen to. jon mitchell Tags:#social networks#web Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Related Posts Why does this exist? It’s hard to say right now. Currently, it’s a giant land grab, with people indiscriminately snatching up user names left and right. There’s no way to tell, except by intuition, whether someone is really who they say they are on Heello, and all the juicy user names are probably taken by now. Fake @GooglePlus, fake @MarkZuckerberg, fake @YouTube, all of them have been claimed. You might as well go get yours in the event that Heello makes a name for itself. And hey, for all we know, Twitter could become an ad-riddled mess, and we’ll all be glad to have Heello when that happens. The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Auditlast_img read more

How Well Do You Actually Know The People You Friend On Facebook? [Infographic]

first_imgRelated Posts A Comprehensive Guide to a Content Audit The Dos and Don’ts of Brand Awareness Videos Tags:#Facebook#web alicia eler Guide to Performing Bulk Email Verification Facebook is Becoming Less Personal and More Pro… New research from Nielsen’s NM Incite reveals that knowing someone in real-life is the number one reason people friend them on Facebook. Of the 1,865 adult social media users surveyed, 82% reported that they friend people they know in real life and 41% cite “don’t know well” as the top reason for Facebook unfriending people. How does this data size up against Facebook’s purported purpose of “helping build closer ties among friends”?The Nielsen study notes that the average Facebook user has 130 friends – closer to Dunbar’s number, the number of people you actually know and keep in touch with, which is around 100 to 230. Yet the top reasons for adding friends, after the 82% which say it’s “know in real life,” don’t match up. Sixty percent of people say they add friends because of a mutual friend, whereas only 11% add for business networks. Eight percent add for physical attractiveness. Then there’s the 7% who just want to increase their friend count and the next 7% who are Facebook whores and just friend everyone. When it comes to gender, men use Facebook more for networking and dating, whereas women see Facebook more as a social and creative space. A recent NYTimes article entitled “The Facebook Resisters” took a look at the people who, for one reason or another, decided that Facebook was just too much information for them. One person interviewed for the article clearly explained the alienation that Facebook caused her to feel, saying that she wasn’t calling her friends anymore, she was just seeing their updates and felt like she was connecting when, in fact, she was not. So, let’s recap: A whopping 82% of people add Facebook friends because they know them in real life. On the flip side, 55% remove friends for “offensive comments” and 41% remove friends because they realize that they don’t know them very well. This suggests that most Facebook users don’t really know the people they friend in the first place.last_img read more

The Four Horsemen of the General Purpose Computing Apocalypse

first_imgTags:#Analysis#cloud Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market joe brockmeier 1center_img A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Cory Doctorow’s “keynote to the Chaos Computer Congress” and follow-up post (Lockdown: The coming war on general-purpose computing) on BoingBoing raise the alarm about keeping the Internet and PC “free and open.” Doctorow makes excellent points and if you haven’t watched the keynote or read his essay, you should do so right away.I’m generally in agreement with Doctorow, but I’m not really sure that he goes quite far enough with Lockdown. Doctorow’s focus on the copyright war we’re facing with things like SOPA and PROTECT-IP is well warranted, but I’m not sure it covers everything. The threat to general purpose computing goes beyond legislation. As I see it, we have at least four major threats to general purpose computing: LegislationCloud ComputingComputing AppliancesConsumer IndifferenceLegislationDoctorow covers legislation pretty neatly, so I’m not sure there’s much need to go further. But, as he says in Lockdown, “copyright wars are just the beta version of a long coming war on computation.” However, Doctorow limits most of his discussion to legislation that might come from parties hostile to general purpose computing.In many ways, general purpose computing and free/open source software (FOSS) go hand in hand. You can’t really make the most of general purpose computing without FOSS. The fact is that we’re seeing a number of other forces that threaten general purpose computing and FOSS, and they’re not all intentional. Cloud ComputingSome free software advocates have been warning against cloud computing for some time. While I don’t subscribe to the idea that cloud computing is to be completely avoided, it is worth considering the impact of cloud services on general purpose computing. By definition, cloud services place limits on a user’s ability to perform general purpose computing. If you’re using a IaaS platform like Amazon Web Services or OpenStack, you’re facing the least amount of restriction. But even with an IaaS, you have limits. Some operating systems may not be available for your IaaS. You may not be able to run some types of services. You cannot modify the hardware, and so on.As you go up the stack to PaaS and SaaS offerings, you encounter more limits that take users further and further away from general purpose computing. You can write a wide variety of applications for a PaaS like Engine Yard or Heroku, but only using the tools offered and within the constraints of the platforms. Cloud computing is also a challenge for FOSS. While some of the platforms are built on FOSS or may even be fully open, most have a lot of non-free software that users are unable to examine, modify or distribute outside the service provider.Using a SaaS platform, you have even less control and flexibility, to the point that most SaaS offerings are essentially appliances rather than computing platforms. Data goes in, data comes out, black box in the middle that users don’t control at all.Computing AppliancesDoctorow touches on computing appliances briefly in Lockdown, but primarily speaks to the legislative issues related to computing appliances. Specifically, the issues that crop up when manufacturers of computing appliances decide they need legislation to ensure that their appliances are not used for general purpose computing. For the vast majority of users, restricted computing appliances are just fine. The loss of freedom and functionality that concerns me and folks like Doctorow is of little concern to most users. So what if an iPhone or iPad isn’t a general purpose computer? It’s easy to use. It does what most users want. Why should they lobby for general purpose computer rights from their legislators when they don’t use them?But legal restrictions are only one facet of the problem. Another part of the problem is the technological challenge that we face with computing appliances. We’re doing an increasing amount of computing using appliances that are capable of general purpose computing, but not designed or fully permitted to do so by their design.Tablets, smartphones, set-top boxes that feature apps, game consoles and many other devices are likely to replace general-purpose computers for many households. There’s no legislation required here. Even if users can legally root an Android tablet or Roku to turn it into a general purpose computer, it doesn’t lessen the technical challenges. Whether the OS on a device meant as an appliance allows general-purpose computing, it may not be well-suited for the task. Doctorow talks a bit about the rise of PCs, distributing software via floppies and sneakernet. The early days of computing demanded general purpose computers for users who wanted to play games or connect to the Internet. That’s not the case now. Even our general purpose computers are starting to come with technical restrictions. Computers equipped with UEFI secure boot, which are expected this year, may in some cases not boot operating systems without the right keys. Apple is slowly but surely restricting apps that run on Mac OS X via its App Store. Granted, you can run whatever you want on Mac OS X that you download outside the App Store, but you have to wonder if that will always be the case. Again, app stores provide special challenges for open source because of the restrictions on licensing. For instance, neither Microsoft or Apple allow copyleft licensing due to their Terms of Service for their respective app stores.Consumer IndifferenceAnd that brings me to the fourth issue that we really shouldn’t overlook, consumer indifference to general purpose computing. Doctorow notes that for the “vast majority of the world… ideas like Turing completeness and end-to-end are meaningless.” For the vast majority of users, restricted computing appliances are just fine. The loss of freedom and functionality that concerns me and folks like Doctorow is of little concern to most users. So what if an iPhone or iPad isn’t a general purpose computer? It’s easy to use. It does what most users want. Why should they lobby for general purpose computer rights from their legislators when they don’t use them?Of course, general purpose computing is important to most users for the same reasons that FOSS is important. There’s an enormous loss of opportunity, especially for kids, in not having readily available general purpose computers. But it’s an abstraction to most users, and not something that they’re prepared to demand from the manufacturers or government. It seems to me that the indifference from users is an even bigger challenge than legislative threats. Convince an NRA-sized voting bloc that any restriction on general purpose computing is a threat to society, and we’d be in good shape. But, at the moment, the vast majority of people just don’t care. Doctorow says that we haven’t lost the war on general purpose computing, “but we have to win the copyright war first if we want to keep the Internet and the PC free and open.” I don’t disagree that winning the copyright war is important, but the first priority needs to be convincing the public at large that general purpose computing is important in the first place. Failing that, we are always going to be fighting a losing battle. 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Google Cardboard Gets Software Development Kit For VR Apps

first_imgGoogle CardboardWhen Google Cardboard, the virtual reality viewer constructed of corrugated paper, came out this summer, people thought it was a joke. But the company was serious—and if there was any doubt about it, you can nix it now that Google just released a software development kit for it.See also: Google Cardboard Offers Virtual Reality On The Cheap—Really CheapHaving now shipped 500,000 units (according to Google), the box-cum-VR headset now has its own SDK, just like the Oculus Rift and its offshoot, the Samsung Gear VR. With this, developers for Android and Unity game developers can create apps for Cardboard that even support complex aspects of virtual reality, like head-tracking, lens distortion and side-by-side rendering. With all those shipments of Cardboard, there’s no shortage of end users to develop for either. That 500 million figure doesn’t even cover the do-it-yourselfers who made their own. Google released instructions at launch, and it also just updated those blueprints.The new specifications allow for a variety of cutting tools—from big implements that can slice through mounds of cardboard to a wee utility blade piercing a single piece. That should give everyone a chance to experience virtual reality without dropping a c-note or more on fancy hardware. In fact, even if you buy a kit, it will only run you about $22 to $25 from new retail partners DODOcase, I Am Cardboard, Knoxlabs, and Unofficial Cardboard. If you haven’t given it a go yet, you may be amazed at what has already come out to work with Cardboard—including a Volvo virtual test drive, a 3D performance by musician Jack White and an app that lets you virtually hang out onstage with Paul McCartney, as well as other 3D games and other apps. That selection could balloon, now that there’s a proper SDK available. The company also organized Cardboard apps for easy discovery in the primary Cardboard app in Google Play, so users can find and keep tabs on them. Nothing invokes the spirit of play like cardboard boxes. But that’s surely not the sum total of Google’s VR ambitions. Think of Cardboard more like a fundamental building block in a much bigger plan, the vision for which hasn’t fully come into focus yet.  Photos courtesy of Google adriana lee Tags:#Google Cardboard#virtual reality#VR#VR headset Related Posts 4 Keys to a Kid-Safe Appcenter_img 5 Outdoor Activities for Beating Office Burnout 9 Books That Make Perfect Gifts for Industry Ex… 12 Unique Gifts for the Hard-to-Shop-for People…last_img read more

IPL 7: Delhi Daredevils keen to play party poopers

first_imgWell begun is half done, goes the old adage, but it doesn’t really apply to the fickle game of Twenty20 cricket.Look at Royal Challengers Bangalore’s season, and one will see why. They began the UAE leg of the tournament with two thumping wins even without their lynchpin Chris Gayle, and looked the most dangerous side in the competition. What followed was three successive defeats.Then, at the beginning of the India leg, A.B. de Villiers pulled off an awe-inspiring chase against a SunRisers Hyderabad attack featuring Dale Steyn. Three more defeats followed, each more heartbreaking than the previous one.The last of those, to Rajasthan in Bangalore on Sunday, was the worst of the lot. They allowed the Royals to score 65 in 17 balls and win with seven deliveries to spare, despite one of Yuvraj Singh’s greatest all-round performances since the 2011 World Cup.Though there had been a sense of foreboding about it ever since the IPL auction in February, Sunday was the night when it became painfully obvious that by splurging millions to construct the best batting lineup in the tournament, at least on paper, RCB had risked the bowling department – and that’s what let them down.Each of Mitchell Starc, Varun Aaron and Ashoke Dinda got pulverised by Aussie duo Steve Smith and James Faulkner, and could do nothing but lick their wounds and reflect on just how fatal half-volleys and length balls can be.Monday’s practice session at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium was optional, but most of the players did turn up. There was more than one set of drooping shoulders, chatter was absent and only captain Virat Kohli strode into the nets looking purposeful.advertisementTuesday’s game against the bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils couldn’t have come at a more opportune moment. The struggling opposition gives Bangalore the chance to get their campaign back on track, even though qualification looks like a tough ask.The onus is on the bowlers to put in the hard yards and make up for Sunday’s meltdown. Don’t be surprised to see some changes though – Chris Gayle is reportedly struggling with his fitness, and could be replaced by Ravi Rampaul to strengthen the bowling.But the change must start at the top of the team hierarchy – it has so far been a disaster of a season for Kohli, and he must come good.Gary learning from mistakesTwo wins out of nine and eighth place in an eight-team table don’t really leave much chance for a coach to save face.When Gary Kirsten appeared before the media here on Sunday, he chose his words carefully but admitted that he had made mistakes. “As coaches we don’t always get it right. I am learning and making mistakes. Hopefully, as a team we are learning through the losses,” Kirsten said.Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes has been to play J.P. Duminy and Kedar Jadhav too low in the order, but Kirsten said it was a double edged sword. “As a coach you always sit on that – do you get your best batsman to face the most number of balls or do you use him to finish? We sit with the same problem when it comes to Duminy – whether we keep him for the last five-six overs where he’s been devastating or do we use him earlier,” he said.Talking in detail about the way the bowlers, especially Mohammed Shami, have not been up to the mark, Kirsten said: “[Nathan] Coulter-Nile was supposed to be the spearhead of our bowling attack and losing him was a big blow. Shami is a key guy and I think he has improved. I think we are beginning to understand him better as a bowler.”- By Shreyas Sharmalast_img read more