Google+ – Posts, Circles, Sparks & Hangouts !!!

Google+ (Google Plus) is an interest-based social networking site owned by Google Inc. Launched in 2011, this platform brings together people with similar interest. Such group of people can build a community and share their ideas through photos and posts.

Google+ is unique in way in that it allows more transparency in what one shares and with whom it is shared. The Google+ menu bar is displayed on other Google services when one logs in the google account.

Some of the most prominent features of Google+ are as follows −

  • Posts where one can update the status.
  • Circles are used to share information with different groups.
  • Sparks offer videos that users might like.
  • Hangouts & Huddles are for video chat with a friend or a group of friends.

Uploading a Post:

We can upload posts on our Google+ profile easily and share it with people in our communities/circles or others who we want to share it with. When we share our post, it is visible on the receiver’s news feed. The post also appears on our profile page and people can comment, like, or share the post. We can also tag people to our post using “+ and their name.

Let’s go step by step and learn how we can upload a post in Google+.

Step 1 − Open your Google+ account.

Step 2 − On the profile page, at right bottom corner click on write icon to write new post.

Step 3 − Write the post. We can also copy paste the content.

Step 4 − Tag anyone if desired. Add the location if needed.

Step 5 − Select whether the post should be public or private.

Step 6 − Once done, click the ‘Post’ option. The post appears on our page as well as on the profile page of the persons tagged to the post.

Google Plus – Circles

Google Circles can be used to group together different people. It may different members of the family, colleagues, or a group of people having similar interest. When we add people to a particular circle, they receive a notification of being added to the circle. Members of a circle can view the posts and photos in the circle. We can also add or remove people from circles at any time. Circles help to share the right information with the right people.
For example, it is a great way to share jokes with ‘friends’ circle, while sharing business matters with ‘work’ circle. People added to circles can also be available on our Google Hangout. By default people and pages added to circles are publicly visible. However, we can change the privacy options from settings. 

How to Create a Circle?

Step 1 − Open Google+ account.

Step 2 − Click ‘People’ from the navigation menu.

Step 3 − Click the ‘Following’ tab as shown in following screenshot.

Step 4 − Scroll down and click New Circle as seen in the above screenshot.

Step 5 − Name the circle and once done, click ‘Create’.

Adding People to Circles

Step 1 − Open the profile of the person who is to be added to the circle.

Step 2 − Click the circle that the person is to be added to.

Step 3 − Click Done.

Removing People From Circles

Step 1 − Open the profile of the person to be removed from the circle.

Step 2 − Click the circle that the person is in and from the menu uncheck the circle.

Step 3 − Click Done.

Google Plus – Hangouts

Google Hangouts is a communication platform developed by Google which includes instant messaging, video chat, SMS and VOIP features. It replaces three messaging products that Google had implemented concurrently within its services, including Google Talk, Google+ Messenger (formerly: Huddle), and Hangouts, a video chat system present within Google+. Google has also stated that Hangouts is designed to be “the future” of its telephony product, Google Voice, and integrated some of the capabilities of Google Voice into Hangouts. Users can be messaged by their Google+ accounts.

This platform also offers “hangouts on Air” option using which we can broadcast live video chatting and discussions to the world through your Google+. These video chats and discussion is accessible to all. It can be edited and a copy of the broadcast can be shared though YouTube channel.

To broadcast our Hangouts on Air, all we need is −

YouTube channel − Make sure to have a YouTube account. Create an account, if there isn’t one.

Google+ profile − Make sure the Google+ page is connected to YouTube account. Nowadays they are automatically connected, however existing users should connect it to Google+ page.

Creating a Hangout

Step 1 − Open Google+ page.

Step 2 − Search for Hangouts in the drop-down menu located on the left side of the page.

Step 3 − Click “+ New Hangout”. Check and add people to be added to Hangouts.

Step 4 : Choose the format for Hangouts, i.e. either video or text hangout. We can also alter text chat to video chat any time by clicking the camera button that appears on the top of the chat window.

We can share emoticons or pictures through Hangouts. We can also add filters to the pictures and videos. When we are done chatting, click the Close (x) button.

Google Plus – Events

Google+ Events page helps in organizing an upcoming event or occasion. It helps anyone using Gmail to add certain events in their calendars. All information about the particular event can be populated with just one click.

The event automatically gets added to Google calendar of those who are invited and are already in the circles. We can invite as many people or even the entire circle/community at the same time. Click ‘+invite name, circles’ and select the privacy as ‘public’. By doing so, anyone can find the event and access the details.

Events automatically get synchronized with guests’ calendars. Everyone attending can share the photos/videos to the shared album. Guests can even inform whether they are going to attend the event or not. If there is a change in the date of the event, guests will be notified by email. They will receive a notification for the change in place, date, time, etc.

Creating a Google+ Event

Step 1 − Open Google+ account.

Step 2 − Click the ‘Events’ tab.

Step 3 − Click ‘Create event’.


Step 4 − Fill all the information about the event such as ‘Title’, ‘start/end date’, ‘location’, ‘description’.

Step 5 − Upload the cover picture. Make sure the cover picture depicts the event.

Step 6 − Check/uncheck the following options.

  • Guests can invite other people.
  • Guests can add photos.
  • Hide guests list.

Step 7 − Add more description via ‘Advanced’ tab.

Step 8 − Invite people who we want to come to the event by clicking the green ‘invite’ button.

Step 9 − Publish the event.

Google Sparks:



Google+ SPARKS is a feature you can use to get all the info about your interests (if you can’t see it by clicking the link, here is a screenshot).
You can click on any of the images (categories) you want, and add it to your interests. I chose to type in my interests instead, and keep up with stuff I am interested in. Creating a spark “Movies” just seems like too much.
Once you chose your interests, you will be able to see a link to each of them under your profile picture. Any time you want to see what is going on in the world, that is related to your interest, click on it and you will get a page filled with news, posts, information.
For example, I can stay up to date with anything related to “blogging”,”Programming” or which ever interest I add, as you can see it in my list of Sparks.

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Best GPS running watches (December 2017)

There are plenty of great fitness trackers on the market right now, each of which cater to different users with different needs. Just need to keep an eye on your daily activity levels? Maybe the Fitbit Charge 2 or Garmin vívosport will suit your needs. Looking for something even cheaper than that? Garmin’s vívofit 3 or Xiaomi’s Mi Band 2 might do the trick. But if you’re a more serious athlete that needs something a bit more powerful—something that can track your long runs and not skimp on the handy watch features—what are your options? Today, we’re going to walk you through our list of the best GPS running watches on the market.

Related: The best fitness trackers | Which Fitbit is right for you?

If you’re a serious runner and need something that will accurately track your routes, has a big, easy-to-read screen, a built-in heart rate monitor, and of course, a GPS, this list is for you. Some of the options on here are a bit pricey, but that’s par for the course in this segment of wearables.

Without any further delay, let’s get started!

Editor’s Note: We will update this list as more devices hit the market.

Best GPS running watch

Garmin fenix 5

Garmin’s fenix 5 lineup is finally here, and these are the best GPS running watches on the market right now.

All three fenix 5 models come with preloaded multisport functionality for running, hiking, swimming, biking, and more. They all feature Garmin’s impressive Elevate heart rate trackers, built-in GPS (of course), water resistance up to 100 meters, as well as navigation features with a 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter.

They all also feature a variety of connected features that make these devices true smartwatches. Users can get call, text and email smartphone notifications. All Sapphire models are also Wi-Fi enabled, so users will be able to connect with their home network and upload statistics even if their smartphones aren’t around.

Not crazy about the regular fenix 5? The smaller fenix 5S might be for you. It has all the same specs as the fenix 5, though it’s built for people with smaller wrists and has a slightly smaller battery. Looking for something even more beefy than the fenix 5? The fenix 5X is much larger and comes with preloaded with TOPO U.S. mapping, routable cycling maps and other navigation features like Round Trip Run and Round Trip Ride. The 5X will even display guidance cues for upcoming turns.

Read more

  • Garmin fenix 5 review
  • Wrists-on with Garmin’s new fenix 5 line at CES 2017
Buy now from Amazon
Buy now from Garmin

Runner-up

Garmin vívoactive 3

best fitness trackers

Garmin’s vívoactive 3 is a huge step up from its predecessor, the vívoactive HR.

For starters, the vívoactive 3 actually looks like a watch this time around, and it will look nice on your wrist whether you’re at the gym or the office. It’s comfortable too, and has a bright, colorful touchscreen display.

There are a total of 15 activity tracking profiles built in, so most athletes will be covered here. It also has a super accurate GPS and heart rate monitor, a battery that will last around five days on a single charge, and plenty of great smartwatch features built in.

If you don’t mind spending close to $249 on a GPS running watch, you should definitely consider the vívoactive 3.

Read more

  • Garmin vívoactive 3 review
Buy now from Amazon

Honorable mention

TomTom Spark 3 Cardio + Music

TomTom’s Spark 3 Cardio + Music is a great option if you aren’t interested in the Garmin vívoactive HR.

It has everything you need in a GPS running watch – an accurate heart rate monitor, a built-in GPS (of course) and support for a ton of different running applications. Plus, this model comes with a Route Exploration feature that not only lets you track where you’ve run, but also lets you get routes from any website and upload them to your watch if you’re interested in trying out a new route.

It’s worth noting there are a few different models in the Spark 3 lineup: the TomTom Spark 3, Spark 3 Music, Spark 3 Cardio and our pick, the Spark 3 Cardio + Music. Though less expensive, the Spark 3 and Spark 3 Music unfortunately don’t offer a heart rate monitor. The Spark 3 Cardio certainly offers a lot for the money, though we believe the onboard music storage and pair of Bluetooth headphones that come with the Spark 3 Cardio + Music provide a better value overall. The Cardio + Music model only costs $60 more.

Buy now from Amazon
Buy now from TomTom

Also read: The dark side of fitness trackers: how to avoid common mistakes that could hurt your fitness goals

Best budget GPS running watch

Polar M200

If you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Polar M200.

This is a waterproof running watch with a built-in heart rate sensor and GPS that will track your speed, distance and route during a run, and will also keep tabs on your daily activity, steps, calories burned, sleep time and quality. This is also a sleek-looking device. In our opinion, it’s much better looking than its predecessor, the Polar M400.

Plus, this device also comes with Polar’s Running Index, which will show you how your running performance is improving overtime. In the Polar Flow app, you’ll get a Running Index score that’s automatically calculated after every run, based on your heart rate and speed data.

Buy now from Amazon
Buy now from Polar

Best smartwatch for running

Polar M600

See more Polar M600 photos

Polar’s M600 sport watch is by far the best GPS running smartwatch on the market.

With a built-in GPS, IPX8 water resistance rating, optical heart rate monitor and 4GB of on-board storage, the M600 is quite the feature-packed watch. It also comes with support for Polar’s wonderful Flow app, allowing you to track just about any activity you can think of – rowing, skiing, hiking and much more. You’ll also be able to squeeze about two days of battery life out of this thing, which is impressive for an Android Wear watch.

You can certainly find Android Wear devices for less than the $300 asking price, but the M600 provides much more than other devices.

Read more

  • Polar M600 review
  • Polar M600 specs, price release date and everything else you should know
Buy now from Amazon
Buy now from Polar

So there you have it – our list of the best GPS running watches on the market! Did we miss anything? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Next: How to use your fitness tracker to actually get fit – a comprehensive guide

Amazon has shipped three times more smart speakers as Google

Right now, two heavyweights are vying for control of your living room. Google and Amazon are battling it out with their smart speakers, and so far, consumers are the winners.

The smart speaker war is the topic of a new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The report is bringing some surprising findings, like the total number of smart speakers sold and just how dominant Amazon has been so far. As of September 2017, Google has shipped 7 million Google Home products, whereas Amazon has shipped almost three times (20 million) as many Echo devices. Keep in mind that these numbers are just through September and don’t take into account the holiday shopping season.

The question is why? Why is there such a disparity between the two companies? What is Amazon doing so well that Google isn’t?

One of the biggest reasons for Amazon’s healthy lead is that it was on the market first. When people think of smart speakers, the Echo lineup is likely what they think of first simply because it has been around longer and they have had more exposure to it. The first generation Echo hit the market in June 2015 and Google didn’t release the Home until November of 2016, giving Amazon almost a year and a half head start.

That head start gave Amazon time to come up with other products too. When it added the Echo Dot to its lineup in March of 2016, it gave customers a much cheaper way to get a smart home speaker. The results speak for themselves: the Echo Dot has been Amazon’s biggest seller. That’s despite not going on sale for more than a year after the original Echo.

The lessons Amazon learned with the Echo Dot have spread to the rest of its lineup. Products like the second-generation Echo are cheaper than ever before. You can now get an Echo for as little as $79, even though they were upwards of $180 when they launched. Temporary price reductions are also getting more extreme, like the Echo Show which you can get for $80 off its normal asking price.

Editor’s Pick

Google is doing its best to keep up. It dropped the price of the Google Home Mini, which competes with the Dot, to $29 for the holiday season. It also slashed the price of the original Google Home down to $79 for the same period. To fill out its lineup, it finally released the Google Home Max that it announced earlier this year. The Home Max is a $399 smart speaker that offers all of the functionality of the Google Home or Home Mini but with a premium audio experience. Amazon currently has no competitor for the Home Max.

Why is Amazon so intent on beating Google to the bottom? It all has to do with getting people into the Amazon ecosystem. You might be shocked to learn that the Amazon doesn’t make much off the products it sells. It currently sits at a 3% operating margin, whereas Google is at 26% and Apple 27% this fiscal year.

The Echo Dot is an opportunity for Amazon to sell even more products, and thus, make more money. Discounting it to $30 entices shoppers to throw it in their cart since its so cheap. Once the Dot is in their home, they’re more likely to subscribe to Amazon Prime for things like music streaming or to purchase more items from Amazon’s marketplace.

See also: Echo vs Dot vs Tap vs Show: Which is right for you?

While the two companies are sitting pretty with almost 100% of the market share right now, Apple is coming. The HomePod was announced earlier this year and will start shipping early in 2018.

The speaker will be priced at $350 and compete with the Home Max for the premium smart speaker crown. With Apple customers willing to pay more for the company’s products, can it challenge for control of the living room or will its lack of competition for the at the low end of the price range hurt its chances? We’ve yet to hear plans for a cheaper speaker that would compete with the Dot/Home Mini or the Echo/Home.

If you’re looking to pick up a smart speaker for yourself or a loved one this holiday season, check out the links below.

  • Amazon Echo – $79.99
  • Amazon Echo Dot – $29.99
  • Amazon Echo Show – $149.99
  • Google Home – $79
  • Google Home Mini – $29
  • Google Home Max – $399

The Case For Giving Free Massages to the Homeless

Holistic health and pursuit of happiness should be available to all, especially those in poverty and struggling.

If ever there was an age of anxiety, it is now. We all seem pushed to the limits at work, personal debt is rising, and the housing market is shrinking, while the world around us seems to be going politically and ecologically out of control. This anxiety is a stress factory that spawns mental, physical and behavioral diseases that, as we know, cost a fortune to contain, let alone fix. On its own, work-related stress accounts for $300 billion dollars a year. 

Many of us are taking an alternative route to deal with this toxic stress. We run to Whole Foods to get the organic kale, we take a yoga or meditation class, get on a massage table, or receive acupuncture or reiki. We can relieve stress by going to a tai chi or a qi gong class, or we do the latest thing and take a “forest bath” by going for a walk in the woods. We see how these things change not only the quality of our lives, but also our health, as measured by blood pressure, stress hormones, immune response and number of doctor visits. 

So, are these things luxuries for the middle class or are they life-changing and money-saving medical interventions? It may sound comical in an age where the battle lines are being drawn around whether low income people should receive healthcare at all, to suggest that they should be getting acupuncture or a free massage, but why not? Since these interventions are proven to work, they could be used on a routine basis to reduce hospital visits, relapse to drug use, and maybe even recidivism to incarceration.

Gandhi once said that poverty is violence, and today 40% of New Yorkers live below the poverty line. This violence is generated by homelessness, by the criminalization of poverty, and the soul-crushing trauma of racism. Can holistic interventions be a significant help in stemming this tidal wave of misery?

We work together at New York Harm Reduction Educators, a social welfare program in East Harlem that does just this. Do tough guys enjoy yoga and acupuncture? Yes they do. Are they interested in following a guided meditation, actively participating in a drum circle, an art group or a walk in the woods? Yes again.  We have seen people locked into a cycle of drugs and incarceration start to turn a corner in their lives. We see those at the margins of our society actually finding room to breathe, room to move, cry, laugh, be human. We see destructive behavior change – this with a very limited budget and space.

The challenge is to make the things that we know work for us and the ones we love available to our neighbors. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga have already been used in prisons and jails and rehabs to great effect and at little cost – but what about when people hit the streets? There is absolutely no reason to withdraw the stress-reduction just at the moment that stress increases exponentially.

At NYHRE we have found a template for continued destressing that can be duplicated and improved upon throughout the city and in fact the country. This is a case where doing the right thing is doing the practical thing – by opening the space that we have found effective in our own lives and making it available for our less fortunate neighbors we can practice compassion and practicality. In an era when poverty is punishment, the pursuit of happiness should be open to everyone.

 

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YouTube TV app for Apple TV and Roku to launch Q1 2018

  • The YouTube TV app will be launching on Apple TV and Roku in Q1 2018.
  • The app was originally supposed to be out by the end of the year.
  • Older Samsung and Sony smart TVs will also see the app early next year.

One of the limiting factors when choosing an over-the-top streaming service is the ability to stream the content to your TV. Most services allow some sort of casting from your phone or tablet, but that’s not a perfect solution. To do this, you’re relying on multiple pieces of hardware that could fail at any time. Additionally, some programming like the NFL don’t currently allow mobile streams of their content.

That’s why, when YouTube TV started to roll out its standalone app, I started doing a happy dance. I can now use the app on my smart TV or Xbox, and the experience is great. It saves me on Sundays and allows me to watch my beloved (but terrible) Bengals.

Editor’s Pick

Unfortunately for some users, they’re still lacking the app. Users with Apple TV and Roku devices were slated to get the app before the end of the year. Now, with only 12 days left in 2017, we’re getting word the apps are being pushed back to Q1 2018. In addition to Apple TV and Roku, the YouTube TV app will also come to older smart TVs in the first quarter. These TVs include some Samsung sets from 2013 and 2014. Older Sony TV’s that use a Linux-based OS instead of Android TV will get the app too.

Most of YouTube TV’s competitors like Sling, Hulu, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue are all on numerous platforms. YouTube TV lags a bit behind the others as they’re all on Apple TV and Roku already. Where you won’t see YouTube TV is on Amazon’s Fire TV or the PlayStation 4. Google and Amazon have had very public battles (although things do appear to be getting better) and Sony refuses to let other streaming services on its gaming system while its pushing PlayStation Vue.

Despite all of that, YouTube TV is one of the popular options for cord-cutters right now. The lineup of channels is fantastic, and at just $35 a month, it’s very affordable. The service initially rolled out to only a few cities in the US when it first launched, but that number has recently pushed past 80.

Android Widget: Android – LeaVe my baThRoom at-least !

What is a widget?  In Android, the word widget is a generic term for a bit of self-contained code that displays a program, or a piece of a program, that is also (usually) a shortcut to a larger application. We see them every day on web pages, on our computer desktop and on our smartphones, but we never give too much thought into how great they are. Widgets first appeared in Android in version 1.5, and really gained traction thanks to HTC’s Sense-flavored version of the operating system. Prior to the release of the HTC Hero and our first taste of HTC Sense, widgets were functional, but pretty bland in appearance. Since then, the people making our phones and independent developers alike have done some marvelous things with widgets, and it’s hard to imagine using Android without them.
Android support to implement widgets for both, the home screen and the lock screen.

Common Types of Android Widget
Widget typically fall in one of the following categories

1. Information Widgets

Information widgets display information elements that are important to a user and track how that that information changes over time. Touching information widgets typically launches the associated app and opens a detail view of the widget information. Example for information widgets are weather widgets, clock widgets, etc.

2.Collection widgets

As the name implies, collection widgets specialize on displaying multitude elements of the same type, such as a collection of pictures from a gallery app, a collection of articles from a news app or a collection of emails/messages from a communication app. Collection widgets typically focus on two use cases: browsing the collection, and opening an element of the collection to its detail view for consumption. Collection widgets can scroll vertically.

3.Control widgets

The main purpose of a control widget is to display often used functions that the user can trigger right from the home screen without having to open the app first. A typical example of control widgets are music app widgets that allow the user to play, pause or skip music tracks from outside the actual music app. Power Control Widgets are using to make changes to the system settings easier and simpler. You just need to toggle On or Off almost all the system settings with just one tap.

4. Hybrid Widget
They combine the elements of different other widgets in one.

Some Widget Limitations
Gestures
Only two gestures available for widgets are Touch and Vertical Swipe
Elements
Due to gestures limitations, some of the UI elements that rely on restricted gestures are not available for widgets.

To create your own widget and use your widget in layout XML, there are two additional files for you need to create. Here is a list of files you’ll need to create to implement a custom widget:

XML Definition File – Click on your project and create a new folder called xml. Now right click on the newly created folder and create a new XML file. An XML flie defines the XML element used to instantiate your widget, and the attributes that it supports. The resource type of the XML file should be set to AppWidgetProvider. In the xml file, define some properties which are as follows :-

<appwidget-provider 
xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
android:minWidth="146dp"
android:updatePeriodMillis="0"
android:minHeight="146dp"
android:initialLayout="@layout/activity_main">
</appwidget-provider>

Layout XML [optional]– An optional XML file inside res/layout/ that describes the layout of your widget. You could also do this in code in your Java file.

Java Implementation File– This is the file that implements the behavior of the widget. If you can instantiate the object from layout XML, you will also have to code a constructor that retrieves all the attribute values from the layout XML file.

Java File must extend AppWidgetProvider class and override its update method. In the update method, you have to deifne the object of two classes PendingIntent and RemoteViews.

PendingIntent pending = PendingIntent.getActivity(context, 0, intent, 0);
RemoteViews views = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(), R.layout.activity_main);

In the end you have to call an update method updateAppWidget() of the AppWidgetManager class.

appWidgetManager.updateAppWidget(currentWidgetId,views);

Following are the other Methods of AppWidgetProvider class to manipulate widgets.
onDeleted(Context context, int[] appWidgetIds)
This is called when an instance of AppWidgetProvider is deleted.

onDisabled(Context context)
This is called when the last instance of AppWidgetProvider is deleted

onEnabled(Context context)
This is called when an instance of AppWidgetProvider is created.

onReceive(Context context, Intent intent)
It is used to dispatch calls to the various methods of the class

You also need to declare approvider widget class in Android manifest file as follows

appWidgetManager.updateAppWidget(currentWidgetId,views);  

<receiver android:name="ExampleAppWidgetProvider" >

<intent-filter>
<action android:name="android.appwidget.action.APPWIDGET_UPDATE" />
</intent-filter>

<meta-data android:name="android.appwidget.provider"
android:resource="@xml/example_appwidget_info" />
</receiver>

Example

here is the example of application widget which create basic widget which will open the Web Browser.
Content of the MainActivity.java

package net.suven.android.androidwidget;

import android.app.PendingIntent;
import android.appwidget.AppWidgetManager;
import android.appwidget.AppWidgetProvider;
import android.content.Context;
import android.content.Intent;
import android.net.Uri;
import android.widget.RemoteViews;
import android.widget.Toast;

public class MainActivity extends AppWidgetProvider{
public void onUpdate(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager,int[] appWidgetIds) {
for(int i=0; i < appWidgetIds.length; i++){
int currentWidgetId = appWidgetIds[i];
String url = "http://android.suvenconsultants.com/";

Intent intent = new Intent(Intent.ACTION_VIEW);
intent.addFlags(Intent.FLAG_ACTIVITY_NEW_TASK);
intent.setData(Uri.parse(url));

PendingIntent pending = PendingIntent.getActivity(context, 0,intent, 0);
RemoteViews views = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(),R.layout.activity_main);

views.setOnClickPendingIntent(R.id.button, pending);
appWidgetManager.updateAppWidget(currentWidgetId,views);
Toast.makeText(context, "widget added", Toast.LENGTH_SHORT).show();
}
}
}

Content of the activity_main.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<RelativeLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
xmlns:tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools" android:layout_width="match_parent"
android:layout_height="match_parent" android:paddingLeft="@dimen/activity_horizontal_margin"
android:paddingRight="@dimen/activity_horizontal_margin"
android:paddingTop="@dimen/activity_vertical_margin"
android:paddingBottom="@dimen/activity_vertical_margin"
tools:context=".MainActivity"
android:transitionGroup="true">

<TextView
android:layout_width="wrap_content"
android:layout_height="wrap_content"
android:text="SCTPL"
android:id="@+id/textView"
android:layout_centerHorizontal="true"
android:textColor="#ff3412ff"
android:textSize="35dp" />

<Button
android:layout_width="wrap_content"
android:layout_height="wrap_content"
android:text="Visit SCTPL"
android:id="@+id/button"
android:layout_centerHorizontal="true"
android:layout_marginTop="61dp"
android:layout_below="@+id/textView" />

</RelativeLayout>

Content of the AndroidManifest.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<manifest xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
package="net.suven.android.androidwidget" >

<application
android:allowBackup="true"
android:icon="@mipmap/ic_launcher"
android:label="@string/app_name"
android:theme="@style/AppTheme" >
<receiver android:name=".MainActivity">

<intent-filter>
<action android:name="android.appwidget.action.APPWIDGET_UPDATE"></action>
</intent-filter>

<meta-data android:name="android.appwidget.provider"
android:resource="@xml/widget"></meta-data>

</receiver>

</application>
</manifest>

content of the res/xml/widget.xml

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<appwidget-provider
xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
android:minWidth="146dp"
android:updatePeriodMillis="0"
android:minHeight="146dp"
android:initialLayout="@layout/activity_main">
</appwidget-provider>
Install App and Go to your widget section and add your created widget to the desktop or home screen.

Android widget application output
Click here to download Source Code and APK
 Learn Android Programming?

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How abundance makes us poorer

Maybe it was to be expected with an offer that involves charity, but it turns out that for me the Humble Bundle Monthly is mostly an investment in a source for philosophical thoughts. When I initially bought the bundle in order to get Civ VI for cheap, I went for the three-month plan. So even if I since unsubscribed I just got my second months worth of games. And compared to the first month, there are even less games in there which I can see me playing. That is not to say that the offer is a bad one, or the games on offer are bad. Rather it reflects upon how my interests got narrower over time.

I am old enough to remember a time before video games. The first video game I played was Pong on a console that couldn’t play anything else, in black and white on a TV screen. When people got the first consoles with cartridges and computers, kids typically had just a handful of games, not necessarily chosen by themselves. If you only have 3 game cartridges, you will play the hell out of each of those games, whether those are your favorite games or not. Fast forward to 2017, where 7,672 games were released on Steam alone, again nearly doubling the number of Steam games available for a fourth year in a row.

Everybody has favorite games and favorite genres. If you are limited by the number of games available to you, you play what you got regardless of genre. If you have an abundance of choice, you get more and more picky and only play your favorite genres. The bottleneck becomes the amount of time available to play, so why should you play let’s say a platformer if you prefer role-playing games? Of course the consequence of that is that you end up with a much narrower experience. You only play a handful of favorite genres and don’t have the time for a bunch of other genres, which might offer a very different experience of gaming.

I see a parallel to the world of news and politics. Back in the day where your only source of news was one paper you and everybody in your street was subscribed to, you all got the same variety of news and opinions. Today there are so many sources of news and opinions that you can choose one which aligns well with your own opinions. If you are a fan of Trump, you watch Fox News and read Breitbart, if you are on the other side you watch CNN and read Huffington Post. But the result is that you end up in an echo chamber which doesn’t allow for a variety of opinions. This has gone so far that the echo chambers of today don’t even agree on the same set of facts. A news source that reports something uncomfortable to you is “fake news”, truth has become subservient to opinion.

The future is one in which we lead comfortable lives in which we play only our favorite games, see only our favorite genre of movies and TV shows, hear only news that please us. Until we have become so isolated from another group of people (which might well be our neighbors) that the two groups don’t consider each other of being of the same kind any more, and start killing each other off. The internet, which had a promise of offering us a much wider offer of everything from information to entertainment, ends up making us all poorer and more narrow-minded.

Gardmore Abbey 5E rerun – Session 4

This session started with an interesting fight in a wizard’s tower. It turned out the wizard was both undead and quite mad, wanting to preserve everything for eternity by freezing it. So the group was hit with a lot of ice magic which hindered their movement, while battling the wizard and his 4 icy mummies. But the group prevailed and scored another card from the deck of many things, which had been frozen in a block of ice together with a Barlgura demon. That caused quite some concern on how to get to the card without being attacked by the demon, however it turned out that the demon didn’t wake up at all and just got banished back to the abyss by defrosting him.

So the group moved on to the garrison, having found both possible ways to open the door there, a scroll from the wizard’s tower and the sword of the lost paladin. But there was another Barlgura demon in the garrison, together with some specters, and this time the demon was alive. I had the demon use his disguise spell to assume the same form as the specters, so the group didn’t immediately know where the main threat was. But otherwise the combat went without major events, and the group found the brazier, one of the three objects they were searching for Sir Oakley.

So they returned to Sir Oakley and rested in the temple. Then they decided to take the stairs in the temple leading down to a dungeon, where they encountered a band of gnolls. The group attacked immediately, while the gnolls tried to retreat. Most of the gnolls made it to the next room and barred the door, but the barbarian just crashed through that door with an exceptional strength check. So the group fought the gnolls from both rooms at once, which was a tough fight. After the fight we decided to stop for this session.

How Big Data Analytics Make Cities Smarter?

Smart city and big data

There has been a lot of activity around the concept of Smart City for some time. Cities are being identified as future smart cities. Theoretically at least, smart cities can fundamentally change our lives at many levels such as less pollution, garbage, parking problems and more energy savings. Though the prospect seems mouth-watering, the implementation of the smart city concept around the world has been sporadic at best because of several reasons. Whatever the stage the smart city implementation is at globally, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) have the power to drive the implementation.

Undoubtedly, the main strength of the big data concept is the high influence it will have on numerous aspects of a smart city and consequently on people’s lives. Big data is growing rapidly, currently at a projected rate of 40 % growth in the amount of global data generated per year versus only 5 % growth in global IT spending. Around 90 % of the world’s digitized data was captured over just the past two years. As a result, many governments have started to utilize big data to support the development and sustainability of smart cities around the world. That allowed cities to maintain standards, principles, and requirements of the applications of smart city through realizing the main smart city characteristics. These characteristics include sustainability, resilience, governance, enhanced quality of life, and intelligent management of natural resources and city facilities.

Big Data in Smart Cities

If major cities were to invest into smart transport systems today, then by 2030 they would save around $800 billion annually. On top of that, smart transport systems also contribute in a few other ways, including:
  • Less automobile congestion and fewer accidents
  • More advancements in faster long distance travel
  • Clean air from the reduction of pollution
  • Excess of new jobs from updates in transportation networks
  • Furthermore, any upgraded transportation option appeals to established businesses looking for a new locale, as they do to startup businesses. Any business wants to know that their workers and clients have access to efficient modern transportation. That access lowers annual budgets for businesses in terms of what they pay in gas mileage and delivery costs.
Big data tracks transportation infrastructure needs and costs helping cities define ways to expand their public transport options in the most efficient way possible. It defines what areas of the city need to open up and how receptive people are about initiatives to raise money for such a project. Cities that use this type of big data analytics are called smart cities and much of the world wants in on the innovations.
Many major cities are starting to use INRIX, a system that analyzes data from traditional road sensor networks and mobile device data. San Francisco’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission saved over $250,000 per year from the direct data collection of INRIX. 

Big Data in Law Enforcement

Contrary to popular belief, in terms of fighting crime, big data is actually allowing police and other law enforcement officers to behave less like Big Brother than more. Data analytics allows law enforcement officers to track real trouble spots and dangerous criminals.


Many local agencies are starting to use PREDPOL or predictive policing systems that collect three main data points from every report: type of crime, location and time of the incident, to make accurate officer deployment decisions in the future.

PREDPOOL



Once high criminal activities are identified, new education initiatives and outreach programs can be utilized in those jurisdictions.


Big Data in Education

The collection and analysis of big data helps educators understand which students need help, why they need help as well as identifying areas in which they excel.
Educators can provide relevant individual and group activities to support each student’s goals and needs. Teachers will be able to assess student progress on a consistent basis in order to challenge students and help them grow.
The analytics provide more three-dimensional insights of their students’ progress while allowing parents a way to understand how each child learns. 
AltSchool is one of the first K-8th grade school providing this personalized learning experience which is only available in developing smart cities such as San Francisco and New York.
altschool
The introduction of big data in the education space has encouraged students of all ages to learn remotely in the comfort of their homes. These massive open online courses collect data from millions of course takers and analyze it to find trouble areas that are causing students to fail. After analyzing millions of data points, algorithms continually updated each course to deliver an “adaptive learning experience” based on each individual’s strength, weaknesses and preferences.
These are just two examples of the many ways smart cities are adapting schools into more personalized and remote learning platforms which may change the learning experience forever.

Big Data in Health

The United Nations says that by 2050, 66% of the world’s population will be considered urban. With populations living in such close proximities, this means that health initiatives must be available to everyone no matter their background, race or economic status.
Big data can already predict the outbreaks of viruses and even track cases of depression. Smart cities will use millions of sensors that provide personalized medical services. Many citizens of smart cities will be able to activate their medical service by a mobile app or free standing kiosks throughout the city. Pulsepoint Respond is a great example of a personalized app that alerts CPR-trained bystanders of sudden cardiac arrests within their immediate area.
PlusPoint
On top of that, smart cities have already started testing systems that allow elderly patients the option to remain in their homes instead of at a nursing care facility. These type of systems include a standalone table, a tablet with Skype and wireless home sensors used for video communication between the patient and their remote caregiver.
The wireless sensors monitor the house and send alerts about safety situations such as a left-on stove or doors opening in the middle of the night. After testing this system in Oslo, Norway, the study has shown that the system can save $85,000 for each person since they don’t have to move into a nursing facility.

Big Data in Energy Usage.

Over 75% of the world’s energy consumption come from cities and 40% of municipal energy cost come solely from street lighting. Since adopting smart street lights which automatically adjust light levels to suit the needs of citizens, Lansing, Michigan saved 70% of their energy cost.
Experts predict that by 2020 there will be over 100 million of these smart light bulbs and lam>s used worldwide. Other cities like Charlotte, North Carolina have implemented smart building energy management which cut their total energy use by 8.4% and greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.
Moreover, the Spanish town of Santander installed 12,500 air pollution and RFID sensors around the city which diminished energy costs by 25% and waste management cost by an additional 20%. Smart cities are barely underway, yet they are already making substantial impact on the environment and to the citizens living in them.
Masdar City in Abu Dhabi and Songdo in South Korea are prime examples of connected cities that, using a local energy optimisation system, materialise the promises of a zero emission, zero waste model. All of the data from the sensors, spread throughout the city, are analysed in real time to optimise a number of aspects of inhabitants’ lives.


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