Masai School launches online coding program for women

  • Program primarily targeted towards women aspiring to begin second innings of their career
  • Program to focus on backend software development

Masai School, India’s first Military style coding school, announced the launch of its first online coding program, primarily targeted towards giving a head start for women beginning the second innings of their career. This part time evening course focuses on building a strong foundation in backend software development and computer science. The course is open to all working professionals and registration for the same can be done on the Masai School website.

Masai School launched in June this year with an on-campus program on full stack software development. Masai School introduced this online coding program with the aim to help working professionals upskill and strengthen their profile to enhance career growth. The course consists of 600 hours of coding, 30 hours of Soft Skills and 60 hours of building mathematical abilities in the time period of 30 weeks. Along with this, the course also brings 24 Guest Lectures, 2 Demo Days, 2 Hackathons, 10 Projects, 50 Challenges and 5 Mock interviews.

At the outset of the launch, Prateek Shukla, Co-founder and CEO, Masai School, said,  “Post our launch this year, we have received great feedback not just from our students but also from working professionals across the country. Many of them were keen on joining Masai School but could not think of quitting their jobs. It was this positive response that made us design this part – time course which would cater to this genre of learners.” He further added, “Coding is soon going to be the world’s second language. With the rapid evolution of technology, this will also create a demand for professionals with specific skills. These are clear indicators that professionals need to upskill to avoid getting redundant. Through Masai School’s backend developer program, our aim is to help working professionals FastTrack their career graphs.”

Masai School recently graduated its first batch with 90% placements for its students. One such student is Hassan. He hails from Salem, Tamil Nadu. He does not belong to a privileged family and did not have access to quality education. Though he graduated as a Mechanical Engineer, he lacked the right exposure to the world outside. This made him take up a job as a mechanic in a local workshop with a monthly income of Rs.18,000. Today, Hassan has cracked one of the toughest technical interviews and joined one of the fastest growing startups of our country. His new job includes 3 months of apprenticeship (Paying 4.5X his previous salary) followed by a full time role as Full stack developer, with a salary that is 8X times of his previous salary.

Another inspiring student is Mahesh. He hails from the town of Sangli in Maharashtra. He has done his Masters in MCA, post which he joined his father in running the family business. A year and a half later, he decided to look for a job relevant to his line of studies. Mahesh applied to more than 25 companies who were offering an average of 2.5 lac per annum, but got rejected everywhere. It was at this stage that Mahesh applied to Masai School. Today, almost at the end of his course, he has been placed as a full-stack developer with a salary of nearly 4 times of what companies were offering him prior to joining Masai School.

Masai School began operations in the month of June 2019, in the city of Bangalore. At present, it also has a branch in Patna and plans to graduate 2000 students in the next 10-12 months.


MP lawmakers create history by working for over 22 hours

The Madhya Pradesh lawmakers have created history by working for over 22 hours through the weekend.

The proceedings of the Legislative Assembly began on Saturday at 11 a.m. and continued for 12 hours barring two brief adjournments in the morning.

For the first time in the 63-year history of the Vidhan Sabha, the business was conducted on a Sunday. The Question Hour began on Sunday morning less than 12 hours after Saturday’s adjournment.

During the continuous meeting for nearly 12 hours on Saturday, Question Hour, Zero Hour, Call-attention and other government business was conducted.

During the discussion on the energy department, allegations against the ruling party Congress and the main Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members on the issue of power supply and bill related issues were taken up.

In the meantime, after discussions, grants and demands of different departments were passed.

The current session started on July 8 and is expected to continue till July 26.

Making up for holiday on July 15 and 16, it was decided to hold the assembly sittings on Saturdays and Sundays. The sittings continued till after 6 p.m. on Sunday.


Science & Technology

Facebook working on voice assistant like Amazon Alexa

In a bid to take on Amazon Alexa or Google Home, Facebook is working on a voice-based assistant for its Portal video chat service and other future projects.

According to a report in CNBC on Wednesday, the social network is “unclear how exactly Facebook envisions people using the assistant”.

Facebook’s AI-enabled Portal video chat service currently uses Amazon’s Alexa.

“We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus and future products,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.

Facebook last year shut down a chat-based assistant called “M” in its messaging app.

According to the report, Ira Snyder, a general manager at Facebook Reality Labs, is working on the voice-assistant project.

Facebook Portal and Portal+ video chat speakers come with Smart Camera and Smart Sound technology.

Portal offers hands-free voice control. You can start a video call simply by saying ‘Hey Portal’ and noting who you’d like to call.



China says ‘working hard’ on Masood Azhar’s blacklisting

China on Wednesday said it was working hard on the issue of blacklisting Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and again warned the US against pushing its own draft resolution at the UN Security Council.

The comments were made by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a press conference in response to a question about the US reportedly utilizing all resources to declare Masood Azhar an outlaw.

“China has been working hard with relevant sides and is making positive progress. The US knows that very well. Under such circumstances, the US still insists on pushing the draft resolution, it doesn’t make any sense.”

Azhar is wanted in India for plotting deadly terror attacks. His JeM claimed responsibility for killing 40 Indian security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir in February.

Last week, Beijing said it made positive progress on the listing of Azhar as an international terrorist after it put a technical hold on the US-proposed resolution at the UN 1267 sanction committee on March 13.

The fourth technical hold prompted the US to bypass the 1267 committee and circulation a draft resolution at the Security Council to declare Azhar as an international terrorist.

While banning Azhar has long been a contentious issue between India and China, this is emerging to be another sticking point between Washington and Beijing who are already locked in a bruising trade war.

Talking about the US-proposed draft, Geng said: “China has repeatedly stated its position on the Masood Azhar designation issue, we hope relevant sides will meet each other half way and continue to properly handle this issue under the framework of the 1267 committee.

“Last week Security Council members exchanged views on the US proposed draft resolution. The vast majority believes that efforts should be made under the 1267 committee to solve this designation through dialogue and consultation instead of pushing the draft resolution at the Security Council.

“The US action is not consistent with UN rules and customary practice. It is setting a bad precedent and only complicates the issue. It is not conducive to peace and stability in South Asia.

“China will continue to adopt a constructive and responsible attitude to participate in discussions and deliberations on the designation issue. We hope there will be a proper solution to this issue,” Geng added.


Science & Technology

Microsoft working on combining Mixed Reality with smartphones

Microsoft is planning to combine smartphones with improved Mixed Reality (MR), a new patent filed by the company indicates, a report said.

In the patent, Microsoft is talking about the different input methods that could be leveraged when combined with smartphones to allow users to interact better with the virtual environment, web portal MSPoweruser said in the report on Thursday.

“The Virtual Reality (VR) experience may allow a user to interact with virtual objects in the experience. Various input devices for facilitating such interaction exist, such as hand-held controllers that provide translational and rotational input,” the report quoted Microsoft as noting in the patent.

Along with taking inputs from the phone, the software giant has highlighted the idea of expanding phone features by adding MR overlay

“The VR experience may represent a representation of the input device that visually displays the device and also provides a user interface for interacting with the device and the VR,” the patent reportedly added.

The patent shows that the software giant is exploring new ways of incorporating VR and MR in its future devices, especially smartphones.

However, Microsoft is not the only company thinking towards working on improving MR, VR and Augmented Reality (AR) experiences and mix them up with future smartphones.

Recently, Apple published an update titled, “Systems, methods and graphical user interfaces for interacting with Augmented and Virtual Reality environments”, as part of an existing patent filed in August 2018, the media had reported.

The patent filed by the iPhone-maker also shows that the company could be planning to develop an AR-based headset that would work alongside an iPhone to enable users experience an environment where computer images are overlaid on the real world.


Science & Technology

Facebook, Telegram working on their own cryptocurrencies

More than 50 engineers at Facebook are reportedly busy giving shape to the social media giant’s own cryptocurrency and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is quite bullish on the project.

Not only Facebook, highly-encrypted mobile communications apps Telegram and Signal are also on the job to roll out new cryptocurrencies over the next year, The New York Times reported on Thursday.

“The most anticipated but secretive project is underway at Facebook. The company is working on a coin that users of WhatsApp, which Facebook owns, could send to friends and family instantly,” said the report, citing people familiar with the project.

Telegram, with an estimated 300 million users globally, is also working on a digital coin.

“Signal has its own coin in the works. And so do the biggest messaging applications in South Korea and Japan, Kakao and Line,a the report mentioned.

With Facebook’s plan to merge its three platforms — Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram – the digital currency would reach nearly “2.7 billion people who use one of the three apps each month”.

Last year, David Marcus, a long-time in-charge of Facebook Messenger, said in a blog post that he is setting up a small group to explore how to best leverage Blockchain across Facebook, starting from scratch.

Facebook also promoted one of its senior engineers Evan Cheng as the Director of Engineering at its Blockchain division, signalling the importance of the project.

According to Zuckerberg, the users may soon login to Facebook with Blockchain-based authentication.

In a public interview with Harvard Law professor Jonathan Zittrain late last month, Zuckerberg said he is “potentially interested” in putting the Facebook login on the Blockchain technology.

“I’m thinking about going back to decentralised or Blockchain authentication. Although I haven’t figured out a way to make this work out but this is around authentication and basically granting access to your information and to different services,” Zuckerberg told Zittrain.

According to him, Blockchain could give users more powers when granting data access to third-party apps.

“Like many other companies, Facebook is exploring ways to leverage the power of Blockchain technology,” Facebook said in an earlier statement.


Science & Technology

Twitter working on Snapchat-like camera feature

Micro-blogging site Twitter has reportedly been developing a “News Camera” functionality that would allow users to add captions to photos, videos and live broadcasts – Snapchat-style.

“Twitter’s new Snapchat-style camera, codenamed ‘News Camera’ is coming soon! Posts created by the ‘News Camera’ will be called ‘Moments’,” tipster Jane Manchun Wong tweeted on Friday. 

The micro-blogging site removed its original “Moments” feature from its Android and iOS apps in October 2018.

As tested, users would have to swipe left from the home screen of the app to launch the “News Camera” feature on Twitter.

“I can confirm that we’re working on an easier way to share thing like images and videos on Twitter. What you’re seeing is in mid-development so it’s tough to comment on what things will look like in the final stage. The team is still actively working on what we’ll actually end up shipping,” CNET quoted a Twitter spokesperson as saying.

Twitter seems to have been testing the new feature on iOS first.

“Twitter has been particularly careful about not leaking ‘News Camera’ on Android, but someone else on iOS have access to the feature,” Wong said.

The public availability of the “News Camera” feature – that was spotted earlier in February by social media consultant Matt Navarra – remains unknown.

According to CNET, Navarra also noted other potential new features, including a (darker) dark mode, encrypted direct messages, an automatic night mode, a way to undock the composition button, redesigned side menu and a way to react with GIFs among others.

Recently, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey nodded to the possibility of rolling-out the long overdue and much awaited edit feature to enable users to alter their posts within 10 minutes of posting.



Working ‘hard’ to expand team to fight misinformation

With Twitter finding itself in the midst of a controversy for not sending its CEO to appear before a parliamentary panel on Monday, the microblogging site has said that it is “working hard” to expand its team and resources to help tackle the spread of misinformation on its platform.

The response, which does not provide any clue about the team size it was expanding, comes in the backdrop of apprehensions that during the upcoming 2019 general elections bad actors could use social media platforms to spread propaganda and misinformation to influence voters.

Twitter was earlier accused by the government of being “slow” in removing “objectionable content” from its platform.

The Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology (IT) wants to question the Twitter CEO over measures taken to ensure the safety and security of the users and allegations that the social media site is discriminating against “nationalist” posts on its platform.

With the Twitter CEO not showing up for the meeting on Monday, the committee has again summoned Twitter’s CEO to appear before it on February 25.

“Attempts to deliberately undermine the public conversation by spreading misinformation at scale, is something we care deeply about at Twitter,” Twitter India said in a blog post on Monday.

“And while we are working hard to expand our team and resources to help tackle this issue, it is important that everyone builds their capacity in order to protect and enhance the public conversation,” it added.

Twitter said it entered into a partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization on media literacy to help its users spot false information, and also reached out to 100,000 youth across the Asia Pacific region to engage them in a series of digital citizenship workshops, safety roundtables and panel discussions.

“In India, we launched the #EduTweet initiative in partnership with the School Leaders Network where we engaged 865 school leaders, educators and influencers from 2,700 schools across India on issues such as media literacy and the digital classroom,” Twitter India said.

“We also partnered with Responsible Netism (a non-profit start up) on their Cyber Psychology Conference which engaged schools across Maharashtra on online safety for children,” it added.



Science & Technology

Key fact-checkers agencies stop working with Facebook

Two leading fact-checking agencies have ended their partnerships with Facebook, striking a significant blow to the network’s efforts to fight fake news, media reports said.

The social network had paid the Associated Press and Snopes to combat its misinformation crisis. But both confirmed they stopped checking articles at the end of 2018, and will not renew their contracts, the BBC reported.

The Associated Press confirmed to TechCrunch that it was “not currently doing fact-checking work for Facebook”.

An AP spokesperson told the BBC: “AP constantly evaluates how to best deploy its fact-checking resources, and that includes ongoing conversations with Facebook about opportunities to do important fact-checking work on its platform.”

The AP representative contacted TechCrunch to say that although it was not doing fact checking work for the program, it was not leaving it altogether.

Snopes, the popular myth-busting website, has said it was ending its partnership with Facebook as part of a “difficult, but necessary change”.

A Snopes statement on Friday said it was “evaluating the ramifications and costs of providing third-party fact-checking services” and wants the efforts to be “a net positive for our online community, publication, and staff”, the Guardian reported.

Late last year, the Guardian had published a report that suggested fact-checking firms were frustrated by Facebook’s lack of transparency.

The article had quoted former Snopes managing editor Brooke Binkowski as saying: “They’ve essentially used us for crisis PR. They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care.”

Facebook had disputed the report, saying it had “several inaccuracies”.

Speaking about the pull out by the key fact checkers, Binkowski said she felt Facebook was too controlling over the fact-checking companies.

“Facebook can’t handle any kind of pushback, any kind of public criticism,” she told the BBC, adding that she felt the fact-checking programme at Facebook had been “mishandled”.

Facebook has worked with two other fact-checking agencies in the US. One, Politifact, told the BBC it intended to continue working with Facebook in 2019. The other, Factcheck,org, did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Snopes said it needed to “determine with certainty that our efforts to aid any particular platform are a net positive for our online community, publication and staff”.

The site’s founder David Mikkelson, and head of operations Vinny Green, said in a blog post that the firm did not rule out working with Facebook in future.

“We hope to keep an open dialogue going with Facebook to discuss approaches to combating misinformation that are beneficial to platforms, fact-checking organisations and the user community alike,” the company said.

The blog post acknowledged that choosing not to renew its work with Facebook would have financial repercussions for the company.

In 2017, Facebook paid Snopes $100,000 for its work. Snopes has not yet released its financial disclosures for 2018.

“Forgoing an economic opportunity is not a decision that we or any other journalistic enterprise can take lightly in the current publishing landscape,” the company said.

Facebook said it was committed to fighting fake news and said it would expand its efforts in 2019.

“We are committed to fighting this through many tactics, and the work that third-party fact-checkers do is a valued and important piece of this effort.

“We have strong relationships with 34 fact-checking partners around the world who fact-check content in 16 languages, and we plan to expand the programme this year by adding new partners and languages.”

Facebook’s fact checking collaboration began after the 2016 US presidential poll led to significant concerns about propaganda and false news polluting the site.

It has since experimented with different tools to stop the spread of misinformation, including limiting the reach of articles debunked by journalist partners.

Studies and analyses of the initiative have repeatedly raised questions about whether the partnership was making a difference, and Facebook has refused to release meaningful data, the Guardian said.