10 January 2014 A R1-million scholarship programme to benefit poor students has been announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Professor Adam Habib, the vice- chancellor and principal of the University of the Witwatersrand. The announcement was made in Johannesburg on Monday night, the day Motshekga released the official 2013 matric results. The Equality Scholarships, worth about R100 000 each, will be awarded to the top 10 matriculants from Quintile 1 and 2 schools – demarcated schools in the poorest areas – who choose to attend Wits University, one of the country’s top universities based in Johannesburg. The scholarships cover all tuition and residence fees, textbooks, food and a cost of living allowance. The students who qualify for these scholarships will be supported for the duration of their undergraduate degree, provided that they continue to excel, Wits said in a statement.Talented learners “The Wits Equality Scholarships in partnership with the Department of Basic Education have been developed to enable talented learners from disadvantaged communities to access quality higher education,” Motshekga said. “This is one example of how government is partnering with higher education and other stakeholders to improve the lives of future generations, who in turn will help us to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.” The minister said the Wits’ Equality Scholarships would help to transform the lives of talented learners who would otherwise not afford higher education costs.Financial aid Habib said Wits already administered about R500-million in financial aid and scholarships annually on behalf of the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme, corporates, private donors and other institutions. “Over half of Wits’ students receive bursaries or financial aid in one form or another,” he said. The programme would supplement the current Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarships, awarded to the 10 best learners from all schools, and will enhance Wits’ current suite of equity programmes, which includes the Targeting Talent programme, the Bale Scholarship programme for young women, the Go to University to Succeed (GUTS) outreach campaign and the Leadership, Education and Development Programme (LEAD). Source: SAnews.gov
Welcome back to the rant! (This is an extended, multi-month rant, in case you were wondering.)Last month I introduced the “Change Toolkit,” a hierarchy of interventions with Mindset at the top (most effective type of intervention), followed by Processes, then Tools; Technologies (the perennial favorite) resides at the bottom – i.e., it is the least effective change lever in our toolkit for creating higher-performing homes. Homes with simple shapes are less expensive and perform betterIronically, simple building geometry has significant other benefits, not least of which is economy: simpler homes are less costly to build. Simpler homes also are much easier (and less expensive) to effectively insulate, air seal, and heat, and represent reduced likelihood of durability challenges such as moisture intrusion.Some of our most successful designers and builders of high-performance homes – unsurprisingly – embody these principles of simplicity and economy in their projects. The photos below show examples from South Mountain Company, ZETA Communities, and architect Steve Baczek. A design rantThis month’s installment in the rant is all about design. If you’re an architect, this is probably stuff you know, but that may not get your attention very often (or you’re diverted from it by those pesky clients).If you’re a building science geek, this is right up your alley – warm up your vocal chords for a great big Yeah! If you’re a builder, you may be ambivalent about it. We’ll see. RELATED ARTICLES High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 1High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 3High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 4High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 5 However, appeal more readily emanates from careful proportioning and quality materials, paired with simple, efficient building geometry. I highly recommend The Old Way of Seeing, by Jonathan Hale, in which he makes a compelling and scholarly case for this philosophy. Characteristics of traditional homesFirst I’d like to draw your attention to several types of what I’ll call “traditional homes,” shown in the image collage.These homes share some important characteristics. They are made:To fit the need (and no more)To be as comfortable as possible given available materials, ingenuity, and skillFrom materials at handUsing efficient geometriesWith low surface-to-volume ratiosThese are all excellent guidelines for the creation of high-performance and net-zero energy homes. Taste, of course, is personal, and some may find these designs too simple. And yet there is a market for these homes, all of which are speculative projects. In our quest for high performance we should not lose sight of the fact that “simple” doesn’t mean “ugly” or “boring,” and it’s an enormously powerful design strategy with multiple performance dividends.The appeal of a home, for some, may rely on elaborate ornamentation, but for many others rests in a sense of comfort and welcoming or spare elegance, either of which may be successfully executed in a simple building volume. Characteristics of traditional homesEven so, much of the U.S. landscape is populated by homes that are absent these principles, such as those pictured below. While I fully understand that “curb appeal” is a dominant driver in home design, I believe that production homes in particular fall prey to design clichés, too often relying on surface ornamentation and geometric complexity in their quest for appeal. RELATED ARTICLE High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 1
Kolkata: Indian pop icon Usha Uthup has instituted ‘Stagecraft Award’ to acknowledge the contributions of technicians, who are the backstage heroes of any entertainment show, and has roped in Bengali superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee as the ‘face’ of the award. This year there will be 16 award categories, three special awards and one ‘Hall Of Fame’ award, Uthup told a press meet here. The categories will include Best Event Set Designer, Best Sound Engineer (Stage), Best Choreographer, Best Make-Up Artist, Best Costume Designer, Best Theatre Production, Best Event Director, Best Event Manager, Special Awards and Special Jury Recognition Award, she said on Tuesday. Also Read – Rain batters Kolkata, cripples normal life “The aim of the foundation is to give recognition to those who work tirelessly behind the stage to make any on-stage performance successful,” Uthup said. Uthup, the founder trustee of Stagecraft Foundation, said the award function will be held on September 22, 2018 and the winner of the ‘Hall of Fame’ award will be disclosed on that day. Chatterjee said “We must give these craftsmen the limelight once at least which they truly deserve.” The jury members for the award 2018 included percussionist Tanmoy Bose, danseuse Tanushree Shankar, theatre personality-actor Bratya Basu and fashion designer Agnimitra Paul.
September 25, 2018 6 min read Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global What’s the difference between President Donald Trump and a takeout sandwich?For one, it’s how Google treats a search for each. Type “best sandwich shops” into the search engine, and chances are you’ll be presented with top-rated spots in your current zip code. Search “Donald Trump,” and more generally applicable content — recent news hits, the president’s Twitter account and the White House website — receive top billing. Though we have an idea of how Google prioritizes different sets of search results, the algorithms themselves are a mystery. When it comes to personalized search, though, we do know one thing: The company saves user data, including recent search history, to potentially tweak results based on each individual. For your lunchtime query, if you type only “sub” into the search bar, Google may use your search history to determine you’re talking about a sandwich and not a submarine.No matter whether you’re seeking out the president or a panini, there’s a chance your past search history could inform the order of results. If you’re, say, a CNN loyalist, Google may use your search history to bump up that publication’s Trump content a couple of spots, whereas staunch readers of Fox News may see that publication featured slightly more prominently on the results page. By and large, however, searches should yield similar results for any user — and Google will never personalize results to be more liberal- or conservative-oriented, said Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liasion for Search. The company does not even have a way of sorting results into such categories, he said. It’s important to note that personalization is often conflated with localization, but the search engine giant maintains that they’re two separate entities. For your lunchtime query, spots within walking distance of your office may show up first, but those results should be the same for everyone in your area. “Personalization is when search results change on something that is related to only you and no one else,” Sullivan told Entrepreneur. “Localization is when something changes based on the location where a search is happening, which isn’t unique to an individual because it’s shared by a group.” According to Google, around 2 percent of search queries are treated with some level of personalization. And though the company supports personalization, it condemns bias, as CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in an email to employees on Friday.“We do not bias our products to favor any political agenda,” he wrote. “The trust our users place in us is our greatest asset, and we must always protect it. If any Googler ever undermines that trust, we will hold them accountable.”Pichai’s comments follow a recent report in The Wall Street Journal that brought to light an internal Google discussion after President Trump’s 2017 travel ban. The ban restricted travel to the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days, and in the internal email thread, employees discussed an idea to volley pro-immigration results in search. According to Google, the discussion was simply a brainstorming session and none of the ideas were ever implemented. But the disclosure will likely fuel critics’ complaints, especially as the 2020 election approaches, that large tech companies such as Google suppress conservative perspectives online.“We build products for people of every background and belief, and we have strong policies to ensure that our products remain free of bias,” Pichai wrote.It’s a vital conversation to have, as prominent tech companies hold the power to influence public opinion on a mammoth scale. According to peer-reviewed research published in 2015, a search engine’s algorithm may have the ability to shift undecided voters’ voting preferences by 20 percent or more — and up to 80 percent in some demographic groups — without the voters’ knowledge.But in Google’s case — as far as personalized search results go — that doesn’t seem to be a pressing issue. Although as much as 11.7 percent of search engine results may show differences due to personalization, according to a 2013 paper by Northeastern University’s Algorithm Auditing Research Group, researchers were surprised to find that past searches and browsing history did not seem to inform results in a signfiicant way. They found that a user’s location — as well as the status of being signed into a Google account — had the most impact on results. (Note that in this paper, researchers included localization in their definition of personalization.) Related: Here’s How to Stop Third Parties From Reading Your GmailThough Google works to avoid top-level bias, there’s a more overarching idea to consider here: Personalization in any capacity can contribute to ground-level bias — or a “filter bubble” on the consumer level. The term was coined by internet activist Eli Pariser around 2010, and balancing that very idea — of an “echo chamber” of sorts that purports an individual’s own way of thinking — is something many tech companies continue to struggle with.“While personalization provides obvious benefits for users, it also opens up the possibility that certain information may be unintentionally hidden from users,” the Northeastern University researchers wrote.Whether you’re concerned with data security or want to avoid potential tweaks to results, here’s your starter guide for turning off Google’s personalization features on your computer.To prevent saved searches and browsing history:Go to Activity Controls, then pause each feature, such as Web & App Activity, Location History, Device Information, YouTube Search History and YouTube Watch History.To delete account activity:Go to Delete Activity, then select the date ranges for which you’d like to delete your account activity.To control ad personalization:Go to Ad Personalization, turn off the feature, then go here to control it on other websites and apps that use Google ad services.If you’re aiming to turn off personalization on your Android, iPhone or iPad:Go here. Then, in each of the four sections on the right, select your device and follow the instructions. Register Now »