Mastering «the new alphabet»

A selection of sites that will teach you how to program

Reading time 4 minutes

In today’s world, programming becomes something like a new alphabet: if people learn to encode information it will be the same progress as after the development of writing and reading skills. It is not necessary to be an IT- specialist to understand that knowledge of programming languages will be useful in any field: for data processing, information optimization, etc. Therefore, even people far from programming begin to master this new alphabet. If you also want to understand the endless stream of symbols and create algorithms, we offer several sites that will help you with this.

Codecademy
Codecademy – learn to code interactively for free

This is one of the most popular online programming platforms. The user only needs to register to get free access to the course materials. In total, the site presents 12 programming languages, so both beginners and advanced specialists will have something to work with. The site has a separate chat, where users can consult with each other and with experienced web developers. Codecademy teaches programming in an accessible game form, so the site is suitable for those who have long justified themselves with the phrase: «I really want to learn to code, but I’m afraid».

Udacity

Among the other sites on programming, Udacity is characterized by the free of charge issues a digital certificate to users that successfully completed a particular course. This diploma is appreciated by many IT companies, so if you are serious and want to connect your career with programming, Udacity will be the most suitable option. The platform also provides courses related to blogging and start-up creation, they teach only the basics of programming necessary to perform specific tasks.

Udacity – get nano diploma, which is recognized by IT companies
Free Code Camp

The platform can be described as a site created for beginners with big ambitions: the service is provided for training from scratch, so each task is explained in detail. However, the site gives you the opportunity to participate in the development of large projects created by other users. Therefore, here you can get both knowledge and experience. To get a certificate confirming the completion of the course, you will have to make a lot of effort: the final task must not just pass, but put on the git-repository.

Free Code Camp – learn to code and participate in projects

Important reminder: don’t be afraid of errors in programming. Phrase: «I pushed something , and everything broke», perhaps, the most common among newcomers. But all of the platforms listed above have «sandboxes» – that is, fields for testing the created programs – and, if something goes wrong, the site will indicate an error in the code.

Exposure, shutter speed, aperture, ISO: how to deal with it

Cheat notes for a beginning photographer

Reading time 6 minutes

The cherished dream has finally come true: you are holding a new camera and ready to click everything. There is only one problem – you see one thing, and the camera – quite another, it ruthlessly spoils the whole picture! In this case, however, it is not the camera, it is the ability to work with it. And there is not enough knowledge about what a matrix and what a lens, will have to study a few more concepts.

Exposition

The first term that any user who has picked up a professional camera faces is exposure. In simple words, the exposure is the amount of light that falls on the matrix of the camera at the time of shooting. Thus, it is responsible for the saturation of the photo, so first of all you should learn how to work with the exposure.

To determine the exposure parameters, it is necessary to deal with the exposure meter – a scale on the screen that shows how accurately the exposure is built. If the runner leaves plus – there is a lot of light, if the negative – few. If the slider is near zero, the exposure is correct.

The secret of correct exposure is that to configure it you need two parameters aperture and shutter speed together – expopair. In the following table you can easily identify the cases in which the ratio of the aperture and shutter speed matched right: cells of the same color located in one diagonal indicate the correct exposure value.

Aperture

The hole in the lens through which light enters the camera body is called the aperture. It adjusts the brightness of the picture, it can be used to take light pictures even in a dimly lit room and Vice versa. There are 13 aperture values, the higher this value – the more the aperture is closed, in the picture it is shown as follows:

Advises

  • the two most popular types of photography are landscape and portrait. To shoot a landscape, it is better to use a closed aperture (from f/8), then it will be clear, for shooting a portrait, an open aperture (f/1,4 – 3,5) will be more suitable, it will help to make the background more blurred and create the famous bokeh effect;
  • if you’re shooting a pair, the ideal aperture value would be f/5.6, and for a group of people – f/8, however, in poor lighting, you should use an additional flash light;
  • in poor lighting conditions suitable aperture value f/2,8, in bright light at f/16.
Shutter speed

Another term – shutter speed – means the time during which the camera shutter is open, and the light hits the matrix. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second, long shutter speed is used for static images, and short shutter speed is used for dynamic images. However, there is an interesting technique: shooting fast motion with long exposure creates the effect of a blurred trail behind the object.

The use of long exposure is justified in two cases: in poor lighting or to create a motion effect (for example, it is better to shoot a waterfall jet at a long exposure). In other cases, it is better to use a short exposure.

ISO

Light sensitivity (or ISO) is the speed at which the matrix records information about the amount of light. But the faster the light is fixed, the more graphic information it will lose. The light sensitivity setting is useful if you need certain shutter speed and aperture values in low light. Increasing the ISO in this case will give the necessary exposure, but the fee for increasing the sensitivity will increase the grain of the frame.

Tip: even if you shoot in the dark, you should set the light sensitivity not higher than 200-400 to reduce the amount of grain, and if in a well-lit room – you should bring the ISO to a minimum.

The ability to work with the basic settings of the camera significantly improve the result of shooting. And with experience, knowledge of settings for specific situations and understanding of the features of your camera will appear.

How to recognize «date rape drug»

Nail рolish allows you to determine the content of a dangerous substance in the drink

Reading time 5 minutes

Going on a date with a stranger, the girls need to be very careful: a glass of wine or even a сup of coffee can be fatal if they are mixed with drugs or sleeping pills.

Date rape drug

Drugs that rapists add to the drink to the victim, are dangerous because they do not have taste, color and smell, so  is almost impossible to feel them. Such substances are referred to drug rape, these include:

  • Rohypnol is the most common drug in the United States that has become associated with date rape. When used with alcohol causes muscle relaxation and memory lapses. Thus, the victim can not resist, and after the rape does not remember the details of what happened.
  • Ketamine – used for anesthesia, but it provokes confusion, causing hallucinations and nightmares, so the victim suffers both physically and mentally.
  • Xanax is a tranquilizer several times weaker than ketamine, but at excessive doses it has the same strong effect.
  • Gamma-hydroxybutyric acid (GHB) – acts in the same way as rohypnol, but is a more dangerous drug. It is rarely found in its pure form. Overdoses in most cases lead to death, since it is impossible to neutralize the action of GHB.

The company Drink safe Technologies has created a nail polish that reacts to the above substances: if something is mixed in the drink, the color of the nail polish will change from pink to black. To conduct such a rapid test, it is enough to dip your finger in a drink or drop a little liquid on the nail.

Reaction to drugs

The creators of nail polish – are the students of the faculty of materials science and engineering at the University of North Carolina (USA). They  decided ti launch thus project, because each of them was personally acquainted with the victims of rape on a date, they reported in an interview. According to them, such cases are not uncommon in the United States, especially often it happens in dormitories, so the students decided to take up the problem.

The creators of the nail polish: Tyler Confry-Maloney, Stephen Gray, Ankes Maidan and Tasso von Windheim

Mass production of the nail polish detector has not yet been launched, but the inventors regularly notify all those interested in how the work is progressing. Last year, the project was among the semi-finalists of the startup competition K50, this year it took first place in the State competition of private entrepreneurs.

The project is called «Undercover colors»,  users can donate funds for the research on the official website. Students themselves believe that their invention will help girls feel more protected, and in case of danger – to take action. They write about it on the project page in Facebook.

The logo of the project

Previously, Drink Safe Technologies was engaged in the development of stands for glasses, which also contained a reagent that reacts to the drug. However, this method of checking the drink is too obvious and can provoke a rapist. Therefore, drug detector stands were not in demand.

Turn the screen into black and white mode

How to overcome the dependence on the smartphone without getting rid of it

Reading time 4 minutes

Dependence on smartphones is a disease, and users themselves began to understand it. According to Google statistics, the query “smartphone addiction” and similar became very popular last year.

Analysts attribute this to the desire of people to cope with dependence on smartphones. Recently, as SKY News reported, sales of push-button phones without Internet access have increased in the world. According to the data presented on the website, sales increased by 5%.

However, there is another way to deal with smartphone addiction. American psychologist Martin Sinclair, the author of the bestseller “Care for busy people” proposed to transfer smartphones in monochrome. All application icons and their interface will become black and white. According to him, looking at the screen without colorful pictures and notifications can block emotional attachment – a key element of addiction.

It’s not a secret that app and website developers deliberately use techniques that cause addiction. Bright colors and colorful pictures – one of them. This was told by Tristan Harris, former head of design ethics at Google. He is the founder of the non-profit organisation Time Well Spent, where users are told about manipulation of their attention and how not to fall for the tricks of developers.

Instruction for use

If the smartphone has already become an integral part of the hand, and life without it seems impossible, it’s time to ask yourself: have I become addicted? The positive answer is an excuse to put your phone in monochrome mode. This can be done in a few clicks.

For Android

  1. Go to system settings and select the category «about phone»;
  2. Several times in a row click on the build number, it will open access to advanced editing;
  3. In the system find window «for developers»;
  4. In the section «hardware visualization acceleration» find the item «Simulate anomaly» and choose the monochrome mode.

For iOS

  1. Go to basic settings;
  2. Find the «Quick access» section and select «Filters»;
  3. After that, a triple press on the «Home» button will allow you to quickly change modes from black and white to color.

And the main recommendation: remember that the world around is much brighter than the screen of your smartphone!

Stress and the city

How different urban objects affect the human condition

Reading time 4 minutes

Experts at the University of Bristol decided to explore which urban landscapes have the greatest impact on stress levels.

Three objects were chosen for the study: parks, cafes and shops. Modern neuroimaging technologies have made it possible to obtain data directly from the brain, not just from surveys. The experiment involved 40 people. Their stress levels were measured using portable electroencephalogram sensors – not in laboratories, but directly in the city.

How does it work

Studies of encephalogram allow to determine different States of brain activity, its dependence on the level of stress and concentration of a person. Experts paid special attention to two types of activity: alpha rhythm and beta rhythm. The first occurs in a state of calm, the second – in the solution of any problem, when you need the maximum concentration. Watching these rhythms, you can assess the level of stress or the opposite indicator – the level of meditativeness.

The level of meditativeness of the urban landscape (cafe, supermarket, park)

The first point of the study was to determine the level of meditativeness-that is, the relaxation of a person in a particular place. Experts assumed that the highest level of stress will be observed in shops, and the lowest – in parks. Their hypothesis was confirmed: the diagram clearly shows that a person is more calm in parks or cafes than in supermarkets, where the level of meditativeness is much lower.

The second point of the study is the preparation of a heat map, where red is an indicator of the maximum level of stress, and blue is the minimum. Indicators in cafes and parks are about the same, the only difference is that in a cafe the stress level is sometimes very high. This is due to the fact that there people can face unpleasant situations for the brain: an irritable waiter, a long wait for the order, etc.

Heat map: the level of stress in cafes, parks and shops

It is obvious that supermarkets are an emotional test for our brain. The researchers note that there are people who rest while shopping, but they should be careful: it is unknown at what point the brain will start to get annoyed and stop perceiving shopping as a vacation.

Say «No» to dull! slides! Online services will help to make your report more interesting

A selection of free programs for interactive and animated presentations

Reading time 5 minutes

The success of any presentation depends not only on the idea, but also on the visual design of the presentation. Dynamic effects and animation can attract the viewer’s attention. We share a selection of free services with which you can create interactive presentations.

Prezi

This cloud service allows you to create an interface of a non-linear presentation-a kind of interactive map. All the material is placed not on the usual slides, but on the whole canvas, where you can somehow arrange the inscriptions, pictures, stickers and other objects. Due to the non-linear system in Prezi it is much easier to work with the structure than in standard PowerPoint: at any time, you can return to the passed fragment and change the scale of the workspace.

You can create a presentation from scratch or use one of thousands of customizable web templates. Any element can be replaced — you get only the shell, but you decide what to fill it with. To see what the final presentation will look like, click the Present button in the top corner.

The service supports collective work on presentations, posting projects in blogs, social networks and other Internet resources.

The free version has several limitations: all created publications are available only to users of the service, the presentation cannot be downloaded to a computer — only online viewing is available.

You can sign up for Prezi using your email address or Facebook account.

Slides

You can also create non-linear presentations with Slides online. The service workspace is divided into zones, and all interactive transitions and animations occur between layers.

Projects are created with embedded HTML code, so they can be read on any device. In addition, the service allows you to download HTML-file and any content from the Internet to the project. Slides provides all users with free access to the library, where the pictures and fonts are sorted by tags.

Presentations that are created in Slides are stored on cloud servers and are available for online viewing. You can save a project in PDF format only when you connect a subscription. To save your online presentation to storage, you’ll need to sync it to your Dropbox account.

Powtoon

Powtoon is designed to create animated presentations. The main feature of the service is that the project can be saved in the format of a video or individual static slides.

Powtoon has a large library of multi-format templates: infographics, animation and comics, black and white graphics and business office presentations. All ready-made elements can be edited using the service tools. In addition, the program provides many creative possibilities: audio overlay, visual effects, creating stickers, logos, interactive charts and diagrams.

The free version of the program has limitations: a video no longer than 5 minutes, a Powtoon watermark on the presentation, export of 30 projects. The service does not allow you to download presentations directly to your computer, but the video can be placed on an Internet platform, such as Youtube, and download from there. Ready-made presentations are placed on any websites and blogs using HTML-code.

Loose lips sink ships

Why you should not chat about your aims but to formulate them correctly

Reading time 4 minutes

New year means new plans and new aims. People can’t wait to share them with others! For example, to tell that you are going to learn a second language, lose weight, learn to draw and so on. But after a while motivation to do it disappears somewhere and created to-do list gathering dust on the shelf. We will tell you why it happens and how to set targets.

Mental traps

Reward addiction = dopamine addiction

It may seem, what’s wrong with sharing your plans for the future? You have told, you have dreamed and… sit on your plans. It seems to be so anxious to implement the conceived as quickly as it’s possible, but soon your aspiration disappeared. That is happening because a person, who talks to someone about his or her plans, falls into a trap without noticing it. The brain does not see the difference between reality and imagination. In one of the researches published in APS, scientists have concluded that when a person wants to deliver on target, consciousness tries to help: it is looking for ways to achieve the goal, calculates all the tracks and chooses the best.

Dopamine – a stimulant of the brain

However, if people tell others about their plans, the brain takes desirable  for real. In psychology, this is called social reality, the effect of having consciousness trapped in a completed action, feeling that everything is already done.

«Smart» formula

Instead of rattling about your plans it is better to articulate the goal for yourself. A clear statement of purpose is the first step towards achieving it, so it is important to pay special attention to the correct formulation. To do this, there is a universal formula SMART, which will help to set the goal properly.

Decoding the SMART formula

SMART is an abbreviation, each letter of which indicates what the purpose should be. SMART stands for the following:

S – specific. The goal should be specific, for this you need to define clearly the outcome, what should happen after it is achieved;

M – measurable. The formulation should contain clear quantitative or qualitative indicators that the goal has been achieved;

A – achievable. When setting a goal, it is important to understand whether you have a chance to achieve it;

R – relevant. Moving to the goal will be easier if you understand for what you need it;

T – time based. The time frame is necessary to ensure that the goal set for a year will not be postponed to the next one.

Incorrectly Correctly
To lose weight By June, lose 7 kg (from 67 kg to 60 kg) to go to the sea

Set goals correctly and achieve them!

Новояз Интернета: правила «олбанского»

Как русский язык ассимилировал «язык падонков»

Reading time 3 minutes

Sorry, this entry is only available in Russian.

Do everything and forget nothing

Techniques of effective learning and time management

Reading time 5 minutes

Being on top of your game is very important, especially when you have a lot of deadlines. These couple of techniques will help organize your studying and working. They cannot give you extra hours in a day, but they are able to increase your productivity.

The Cornell Note-taking System

Cornell Notes example

Walter Pauk, a professor at Cornell University and the creator of this method, decided to walk away from a usual linear form of writing notes in the 1950s. He suggested to divide a piece of paper into several blocks to help organize different information. In an original variant these blocks are notes, keywords and comments, and summary. The main advantage of this technique is that it allows you to process and analyse the information while note taking. Psychologists Annie Piolat, Thierry Olive, and Ronald T. Kellogg conducted a study which proved that The Cornell Method actually helps to remember information faster and to be more productive. So arm yourself with pens and learn to make notes correctly.

Mind Maps

A mind map is a way of visualizing information based on radiant thinking. Simply put, it is a method of organizing data in which the facts are presented in the form of associations, starting from a Central Idea.

Mind map on time management

A lot of people know about mind maps, but not all of them understand why they are effective. Tony Buzan, a psychologist who created mind mapping, explained that nowadays a left hemisphere, responsible for logic, is dominating over a right hemisphere, responsible for creativity. This causes an imbalance which reduces productivity. Mind maps make both hemispheres work together because a written information combines with images. This method is helpful not only in studying, but also in planning. However, it is important to learn some rules first, so the technique can work efficiently.

The Eisenhower Matrix

Time is the most valuable resource, so it is essential to know how to use it correctly. The Eisenhower Matrix is a method of setting priorities. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States and the creator of this technique, was known as a well-disciplined and organized person. The Eisenhower Matrix consists of four squares in which you put your tasks depending on their urgency and importance.

Pomodoro Technique

When all notes are taken, mind maps are created, and tasks are prioritized, there is the one thing left – make yourself to do all planned and learn everything written. At this point, there are problems with self-organization because concentrating on one task can be very complicated. That is when you should use Pomodoro Technique.

A “tomato” as a remedy against procrastination

Its essence lies in the fact that the learning process is divided into periods of time, which are conventionally called “tomatoes”. One “tomato” is 30 minutes long: 25 minutes of work and 5 min rest. After 4 “tomatoes” you need to take a long break for 20-30 minutes. It is very important to time yourself not with a phone (so you won’t be distracted by notifications), but with a timer, as Francesco Chirillo, the author of the technique, did. Currently, there are multiple sites with Pomodoro timer.

 

 

Terribly interesting

Why we love horrors

Reading time 4 minutes

Psychologists, sociologists and film critics were studying this paradox from various perspectives. However, they couldn’t definitely answer the question why it happened like that. Nevertheless, they elaborated several theories explaining this phenomenon.

Theory 1. Fire with fire

A scene from the "Anabelle" (2014)
A scene from the «Anabelle», 2014

Fear is a protective reaction of any living being, which aids him to survive. However, if fear is not controlled or suppressed, it turns into the phobia. As a rule, phobia is connected to something unknown and unexplainable. Here one can remember plots of traditional horror movies. Ghosts, devils, damnations or maniacs, insane and cannibals – all of them are included into any horror and serve a particular function of phobia trigger. In other words, focal elements of a scary movie are external impeti which bring on fear. As the psychiatrist Roman Suleymanov said, the best way to overcome fear is to experience it. Therefore, horror movies give people an opportunity to tackle with their anxiety, even unconscious.

Theory 2. The cat’s out of the bag

A scene from the «Friday the 13th», 2009

A human is not only a social being but also biological one. It’s typical for him a tendency to violence which is explained by natural necessity to defend from enemies. Aggressive behaviour, as filosofer O.Spengler and zoophychologist K. Lorenc guess, helped a person to survive in the evolution process. However, nowadays people have no necessity to kill. Besides, harsh social boundaries restrict and suppress aggressive actions. Yet human nature works like that: it is complicated to suppress aggression, it is much easier to take it out. Subconsciously a spectator can associate himself to a killer. In that case scary movies become a «vaccine» against violence. They simulate situations which will hardly appear in reality, and, besides, they enable a person to «try on» a maniac role.

Theory 3. Just for fun

A scene from the "Saw 7" (2010)
A scene from the «Saw 7», 2010

From science perspective, during the strong emotional troubles human brain oozes powerful neuromediators: oxytocin and dopamine – hormones requesting for the happiness and pleasure feelings. Horror movies is a peculiar emotional shock for the brain. That’s why a person might feel satisfaction after watching a scary film. Despite it sounds paradoxically, in that case horror movies is a kind of ride which is more likely to cheer you up then to scary.