What Melania Trump Should Not Do on Her Trip to Africa

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First Lady Melania Trump leaves today on the four-nation trip to Africa – the first international trip alone without her husband. She will visit Ghana, Malawi, Kenya, and Egypt. Although she carries her own slogan, “Be Best,” she will be working closely with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). At a reception at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, she commended the agency’s work in Ghana to improve health care and nutrition. In Malawi, USAID has championed education as a means of fighting poverty, and in Kenya, its programs focus on early education, wildlife conservation, and HIV prevention.

There is a lot riding on her trip, not least of which is foreign aid. Africa’s economies – in particular, Nigeria and South Africa, the two largest – have been struggling with recession. In an August a trip to Africa, Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May pledged $5.1 billion for investment in Africa. A month later at a forum in Beijing, China made a counteroffer of $60 billion in aid and loans without any political conditions or strings attached. Speaking at the Beijing forum, Chinese President Xi Jinping disclosed the breakdown of the aid as follows: $15 billion in grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans, $20 billion in credit lines, $10 billion for “development financing” and $5 billion to buy imports from Africa. While many African leaders would expect her to commit U.S. funding, Melania Trump should avoid making any pledges of foreign aid.

There is much confusion about foreign aid, of which there are three types – humanitarian assistance, military aid, and official development assistance or ODA. Humanitarian assistance is offered to victims of natural calamities such as earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, and so forth. Such aid is welcome and noble when an African country is struck by a natural disaster. Military aid to Africa has been the most useless and pernicious. More often than not, it has strengthened the hands of dictators against their own people. For example, in February 2011, during heydays of the Arab Spring in Egypt, the Hosni Mubarak government sent U.S.-supplied F-16 fighter jets to buzz protesters in an effort to intimidate and terrorize them. It did not work; Mubarak was ousted by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt led by Abdel al-Sisi, who rapidly promoted himself to field marshal, and subsequently became the president. The Egyptian military controls about half of the country’s economy.

Neither does Africa need official development assistance (ODA). More than $800 billion in Western aid has been pumped into Africa since 1960 with nothing to show for it except a multitude of black elephants, crumpled infrastructure, and shuttered factories. More pertinently, the aid resources that Africa desperately needs can be found in Africa itself. Each year, Africa receives about $44 billion in ODA from all sources, but according to the African Union, corruption alone cost Africa $148 billion a year. The choice of Ghana on the first lady’s itinerary is a prudent one because Ghana’s able president, Nana Akufo-Addo, has pledged to chart a development path beyond foreign aid.

Many African leaders will also expect Melania Trump to apologize for the crude and uncharitable insults her husband has hurled at Africa recently. He referred to Haiti and some African countries as “shit holes,” opined that Nigerians in the United States on visas would be loath to return to their “huts,” and suggested to Spain’s Foreign Minister that he build a wall across the Sahara to deal with Europe’s migration. Ms. Trump would be expected to offer a palliative to soothe emotions laid bare by such careless slights. But she shouldn’t be offering apologies for her husband’s intemperate remarks. It would never end and would crowd out her own agenda. Her presence in Africa alone is testament enough of her true feelings and goodwill toward Africa. Instead, she should use this trip to carve for herself a unique niche in U.S.-Africa relations. She should make her trip a celebration of the African woman, the least recognized and appreciated in the West and most shockingly, in Africa itself.

The African woman plays a role that is uniquely different from her Western counterpart. The African woman is the backbone of every traditional African economy. Because of sexual division of labor in traditional Africa, dangerous occupations – such as hunting, fishing, fighting wars, defending the village, among others – are reserved for men. Child rearing and the cultivation of food crops have always been the avocation of women. Women grow corn, tomatoes, onions, and other vegetables on small plots of land, measuring 3 to 5 acres. They still do today, providing the bulk of labor input in agriculture. The World Bank estimates that they provide anywhere from 60 percent to 80 percent of the labor force. The most challenging task for them has been harvesting farm produce and moving it from their farms to their homesteads. They often do so by carrying it on their heads. What can’t be carried is left to rot on the farms.

Back in the 1950s, there was no problem finding additional labor to help in this exercise. Their children and extended family members helped. So Africa not only fed itself but exported food as well. But the introduction of free primary education after independence and urbanization deprived the farmers of labor, creating shortages. Thus, one comes across inexplicable anomalies of food shortages in the urban areas while food is rotting on farms in the rural areas.

Traditionally, Africa’s women farmers have used what they grow on their farms to feed their families. They take what is left (food surpluses) to sell on free village markets. This has been the practice for centuries before the European colonialists stepped foot on the continent. It is still the practice today, which explains why market activity in most sub-African countries is dominated by women. Prices on traditional African markets have always been determined by bargaining; they are not fixed by African chiefs or village governments. Below is the typical market scene in Ghana.

With the passage of time, some women farmers specialized completely in the cultivation one particular crop, say tomatoes. Men also engaged in agriculture, but there was sexual division of labor here too. While women concentrated on the cultivation of food crops, men dominated the cultivation of cash crops such as cocoa, coffee, cotton, peanuts, etc. Of course, this division of labor has never been watertight. Men have grown and sold vegetables and women have led armies into war.

Nevertheless, the role played by the African woman in the economy has not been very much recognized and appreciated by modern African governments since independence in the 1960s. Nearly all of the postcolonial African leaders – from Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to Nelson Mandela of South Africa – had mothers who were market women or traders. In fact, Africa’s market women and traders played an indispensable role in the struggle for independence. They used part of their profits from trading to finance that struggle. Yet in an act of monumental perfidy, many postcolonial leaders turned ideologically hostile towards markets. They adopted socialism/Marxism as their ideology. Markets were portrayed as Western institutions and slated for destruction. They did little to build upon the operations of traditional markets, which have been and have remained open-air affairs — crowded, filthy and unprotected from the elements. The ruling elites paid little attention to them and built supermarkets for themselves. In the early 1980s in Ghana, for example, stringent price controls were imposed on markets, and market women who violated them were whipped and their heads shaved. Markets were razed to the ground when traders refused to sell their goods at government-dictated prices. Recall that on traditional African markets, prices have always been determined by bargaining.

Neglect of peasant agriculture coupled with senseless civil wars – over 40 of them since 1960 – which uprooted millions of people and turned them into refugees — most of whom were women and children — devastated Africa’s food production. Africa can’t feed itself today. It receives $44 billion in foreign aid and spends $35 billion a year to import food. That is, Africa relies on foreign aid to feed itself – all because the role of the African woman in the economy has never been fully appreciated by modern African governments.

Melania Trump can help change all of this by making an impromptu visit to an African market and purchasing some tomatoes to show the cameras. Most certainly, the one selling them would be a woman!

***

George Ayittey is a native of Ghana, president of the Free Africa Foundation, and a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute. His forthcoming book lays out an alternate road to African prosperity.

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[Beta] FX Renew End of Day Signals Order Sheet 2 October 18

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Currently in Beta Mode, FX Renew End of Day signals are trades based off our Weekly Trading Opportunities Report. Entry orders are set and trades are managed once a day in the hour after the US market closes, though there may be the odd time the trade needs management intra-day depending on the market. 

Trade Management Updates 

  • No updates today

New Signals 

Here is a brief user guide.

  • Put an order to close 25% of your position on each profit target. If any of the targets say “trail” then don’t add a target as we are letting this portion run.
  • Entry orders on Tuesday to Friday are “market orders”. Orders on Monday are “stop” orders
  • You can view current trades in the Signals Matrix

NO NEW SIGNALS TODAY

The post [Beta] FX Renew End of Day Signals Order Sheet 2 October 18 appeared first on FX Renew.

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5 Tips To Seriously Improve SEO

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Looking to drive or pull in more customers to your website? Then SEO is the best and cost-effective way to reach your potential targets. SEO is all about following the right strategy to increase sales and generate leads. There is no secret recipe here to top your website in the search engine rankings. But by following the right method, you can achieve great results and drastically improve the organic ranking of your website.

Here in this article, you will find a few tips that will help you in boosting your website’s traffic to a whole new level.

High-Quality Content.

As you start writing an article always remember to provide actionable guidance. Your content can be long enough, but it should provide the users with the right information. Before you start writing, do research and check out for similar articles which rank high in the search engine.  Make sure your content is SEO optimized and, Scott Keever SEO agency offers the best SEO services you could ever find.  Keep writing your articles better than before and, your content is sure to appear on the 1st page of the search engine.

Right Keywords.

Perform keyword research before you start writing an article. One of the best keyword tools you can find is the Google keywords tool. You will get a list of keywords that are performing extremely well based on users search on Google.  You can also type your keyword in Google search and check for the popular suggestions. It’s good to focus on keywords that have a high search volume. Optimizing the right way can drive more traffic for your keywords with less search volume.

Loading Speed.

Loading speed of the website is an important ranking factor in Google. No one likes slow loading pages, and it’s the same with Google. The loading speed of a website should not be more than 2 seconds. If it takes time, the visitors will automatically lose their patience and navigate to other websites. Images are the important elements which have to be optimized as they take so much o loading time. Never use images of higher resolutions unless you need one. If your loading speed is slow, Google will find it more complicated to crawl your webpage.

Promotion Through Guest Blogging.

Guest blogging offers many benefits, but they are often unrecognized. They help to build high-quality backlinks, increase reputation, gain more exposure to your website and so on. You can use social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook to automate your guest blogging research process. Never waste your time in posting quality articles on low sites or for the sake of getting a link. Provide something note-worthy and, valuable and you will get something in return.

These are the few best tips to improve your SEO practices and increase organic traffic. Everything takes time. Don’t expect results in an overnight. Keep trying new things every day as well as have an eye on your competitors. You will reap a lot of benefits if done the right way.

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Questions You Should Ask A Branding Company Before Engaging Their Services

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Sleek design and cutting-edge innovation means nothing if a company’s creative department does not know how to sell their brand. It’s about positioning the product and differentiating it from the competitor’s product. This is why it is crucial to find a branding agency which knows how to put your brand out there in the market.

It all comes down to what makes the agency worth hiring? For a minute, forget the price and the process they follow because these two aspects differ from agency to agency. Following are four questions related to the nitty-gritty details of the brand that you should ask a branding agency before hiring their services:

Q1. What Does the Term “Branding” Represent In Your Eyes?

Ans. A branding agency that keeps their focus on the design and logo of the brand and product is not the best fit for you.

The answer to this question must be along the following lines:

“To us, a brand isn’t just a logo or marketing material. We see your brand as an idea, which you want to take to a level where it easily pops into the people’s mind. Our aim is to create top-of-mind recall, so that your brand becomes the first thing they think about when a product is mentioned. The story we will create, will revolve around your brand’s image rather than just its name.”

Q2. How Will You Differentiate Our Brand From the Competitors?

Ans. A good branding agency such as BrandMatters Branding Company will go straight to the brand’s differentiating value that you are planning to promise to your target audience.

The answer to this question must be along the following lines:

“Whether you are planning on launching a service or a product, the leading differentiators will not be the brand itself. It will be the emotion that is represented through the brand. For example, what value does this product hold in the consumer’s eyes? Instead of focusing on its functionality and features, we will capitalize on the connection to create strong top-of-mind.”

Q3. What ROI Numbers Can I Expect?

Ans. The answer you should be looking here for must be about how the branding will use a/b test creative to increase ROI.

The answer to this question must be along the following lines:

“Depending on your goals, whether you are looking for brand awareness, sales or both, we will work accordingly. We will use our connections and different platforms to measure your progress and pace. This way, if we find out that certain tweaks can be made to the campaign to increase the ROI, the change will be made accordingly to the strategy.”

Q4. How Will You Manage Client Collaboration and Communication?

Ans. Around 10% of your budget goes into project management and the rest is used for the strategy and implementation. A good agency will communicate with you on a daily basis to not just tell you about the progress but to also inform you how they plan to launch your brand.

The answer to this question must be along the following lines:

“We have a process where we go over our client’s objective and goals, and only then we set timelines, plan the strategy, execute work, measure the pace, gather feedback, find the impact of our result and focus on on-going optimization.”

It is important to focus on two things when hiring an agency: how the agency operates and how they will handle your brand. Once you have got all the details that satisfy you, only then make the choice of working with them.

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Why BlockChain Is The Future Of Cryptocurrency

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We live in a logical world that has rested its faith in algorithms and technology. Blockchain technology was the knight in the shining armor during the tough times. Rightfully so, because decentralization and partnerships with the liberty to raise red flags at any point of time gives clarity and in turn, the confidence that automation followed by close monitoring contributes to higher success rates, at the same time lowering the requirement for manual labor.

The importance of brand names is irrefutable here. Bigger the brand names, higher their involvement equated to higher trust because they have earned so. Hence, when OBCIA appointed Fantom as the Vice-President, it instilled the element of fair-play while presenting its own set of challenges. However, with the involvement of industry giants IBM, Microsoft, MediBloc and KEB Hana Bank, this bears the potential to become the next big thing. In the initial development stages of a technology, mainly when a large sum of currency across the world are involved, it garners attention and curiosity from non-specialists. Nevertheless, the point remains that once blockchain unleashes its full potential, it will find its place in every sector.

Strong Ethical Behavior:

The heart of the technology lies in the standards of work ethics it promises. The concept is quite simple and therefore widely applicable and thereby a fair deal. Think an open-sourced system with information flowing in and out of the networks. For example, a page on Wikipedia with the updates of a live game. Information is rushing in from different parts of the world. It is crowded, updating with every move from the players. Now, what if you can track the source for each update and express yourself based on your observations? You monitor a couple of updates and spot a bug. The concept of equal distribution of power and the decentralization element ensures that you cannot tamper with the process, unlike a monarch where complete authority could compromise with the polling. That is how blockchain technology has established firm ethical grounds.

Distributed Trust:

The equal distribution of power enhances the trust factor in the system. This is also the part where distributed trust comes into play. Looking at blockchain technology from this angle, it pretty much looks like the internet twenty years back: a decentralized system with a centralized layer underneath to establish the ground rules but the power is not entirely vested in one party. Several banks, businesses big or small, individual entrepreneurs are active participants. This cohesiveness of bringing all the parties that otherwise fall into different tiers, playing different roles, contributing differently to the bigger picture is responsible for distributed trust amongst the participants. The authentication power lies in everyone, and no one has the upper hand reducing the bias. As a result, you have a mutual partnership that promotes mutual trust.

Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency, and Blockchain technology is different:

Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain are associated terms. Sure, they overlap, but they are different concepts altogether. Cryptocurrency forms the more significant subset here with blockchain defining the algorithms which tie the process together. Bitcoin is an event which grabbed limelight towards cryptocurrency.

This is almost similar to how some people call it a “Google search” and not an internet search because they do not realize that Google is not the internet; that Google is a mere search engine that facilitates the search. On the other hand, any platform that collates everything across websites is a search engine. Here, the brand name has almost become so synonymous with the process, that the brand name is used to describe the process. Similarly, Bitcoin is a platform that facilitates cryptocurrency with blockchain technology. It takes some understanding to differentiate the two, but once you do, you get the idea how it works.

Again, if you look closely, the world’s first search engine was Yahoo. It could not sustain the turbulent times and failed to adopt on so many levels that the original idea was compromised. Google, on the other hand, capitalized on the existing pitfalls and overcame those flaws with their capabilities and it lived through the darkest nights, guiding us to the break of dawn. Bitcoin introduced a concept but failed to evolve. That does not have to mean that either cryptocurrency or blockchain technology is flawed. Numerous organizations are exploring these options, and new avenues are bound to open up soon.


Why BlockChain Is The Future Of Cryptocurrency was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Stop Calling People “Talented”

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“selective focus photography of man playing grand piano in crowd” by Josh Appel on Unsplash

They’ll Stop Trying New Levels In Age Of Empires

countless hours wasted, countless more to come

There’s this game called Age of Empires III which involves picking a map, building one’s empire, and destroying the opponents’ with our armies. Now, once I start playing this game, it will take a miracle for me to stop in less than six hours. This is a demonstrated fact, and has often been a source of colossal frustration to my parents in the past. They’re not against gaming, it’s just that I don’t eat when I’m playing — something which never makes a GI tract happy.

Multiply that with a few months and you’ll see why I’d become a fucking AOE virtuoso, kicking three asses at a time with nobody on my team but me. However, shudder, all the adult responsibilities knocking at my door were becoming increasingly hard to ignore. So I uninstalled the game. This was a few years ago.

Couple months ago, the game was back in my life. I inculcated AOE into my reward-and-punishment system that I use to daddy my productivity. After a massively productive week, I booted the game up after a long time — excited out of my wits. I picked a map — Amazonia (a huge river running between two expanses of land, your team on one side, enemy team on the other) — and I played that map repeatedly. By morning, I was able to handle four enemies at the “Hard” difficulty level, alone.

Somewhat accurate representation of the Amazonia map

I’d developed this strategy of quickly gathering resources for building multiple docks (which help build ships). I would then mass-produce ships before the enemies could get started, destroy their docks, and park my ships all along their coast. In this way, they’d never be able to build docks — and hence — attack my land.

While they’d be wasting resources trying to take down my fully-upgraded ships, I’d be patiently focusing on a booming economy, not having to waste resources on training soldiers (because there was no enemy to defend my land from). Once I got bored, I’d build ridiculously large armies using the insane amount of resources I’d have gathered during all of this slacking time, and then wreak havoc upon my enemies at will.

This was a brilliant strategy. So brilliant that I could just repeat it over and over and win every single time. I thought to myself “Hey, that’s pretty smart. I must be really talented at this game or something.” High on this confidence, I tried a new map — Bayou.

Now, Bayou is nothing like Amazonia. It is a whole new beast, which requires completely different strategies. But I still wanted to win, so I employed my good old strategy of choking areas crucial to entry while focusing on economy and not producing a lot of soldiers.

I lost miserably.

Now you’d think I’d just say “meh” and tried new strategies until I found the one that worked — but that’s not remotely what happened. Instead, I had some chilled coffee and went back to mercilessly dominating enemies on Amazonia. I’d begun to fear the idea of playing any other map — and just kept playing on this one, burying myself in self-inflicted monotony.

Why?

After a dozen consecutive wins on the map, I’d managed to prop up a precious little label for myself — “I’m talented at this. I’m smart. I want to keep feeling smart.”

And ever since I built that fragile little glass sculpture of myself, I was too afraid to break it. I was afraid to take up new challenges in the form of new maps. I was afraid of the unknown. I was afraid of the possibility of losing. I wanted to mitigate — nay — remove the chances of me losing. I was smart. I didn’t want to lose that label.

The result? I plateaued. I didn’t grow. I remained terrible at all the other maps and became a one-trick pony who was too afraid of new challenges. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that such an attitude doesn’t lead people to good stations in life.

While reading the book “make it stick” (amazing read, btw — I recommend this to every person I talk about books to) I came across a study which, very accurately, explained my experience. A study by Stanford professor Carol Dweck demonstrated how adolescents who who were praised for being “smart” focused on their performance (trying to maintain their levels), whereas those praised for their “effort” focused on their learning (trying to learn more, fail more, and grow more).

The underlying principle here is the famous dichotomy of fixed vs. growth mindsets. Simply put, with a fixed mindset, one tries to maintain what one already has without trying to grow. But with a growth mindset, one constantly pushes oneself to see how far one can go — more risk-taking, less resting on (and defending) laurels.

This underlying principle and its ramifications are all-pervasive. A fixed mindset is why celebrities often lose relevance. A fixed mindset is why, thousands of years ago, kings employed overly defensive strategies and lose their kingdoms because of such choices.

So I tried to forget my past achievements in Age of Empires, started the game up, picked a whole new map — The Great Plains — and started playing. I lost again, but I learned much more in one game that I’d learned in the previous ten games playing the same map.

I traded “smart” for “resilient” and “good learner” and conquered every other map in the game, some even better than I conquered Amazonia.

Easily the best deal of my life.


Stop Calling People “Talented” was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Voting Determines the Conversation: How to Think About Staking Tokens

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Why has democracy left us more divided than ever? As we in the cryptocurrency industry think about staking tokens, it’s important to recognize how we got where we are today, and to set up our new systems so they won’t repeat the mistakes of the past.

Least of the evils

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the rest,” according to Winston Churchill. I want to put to rest the idea that democracy is the best form of government.

Representational democracy, that is the democratic system we use now, was invented thousands of years ago. Look around you. What systems are you using that are the same as the ones that were used thousands of years ago? Decades ago? Years ago?

“iPhone 1 is the worst mobile phone except for all the rest,” said nobody. Why do we have an iPhone 10? Because we kept developing technology.

In combination, mobile communications, distributed ledger technology, biometric identification, and big data represent an opportunity to create completely new forms of governance that we never fathomed before.

Binary voting causes divisiveness

In our current form of democracy, almost all voting is binary. You can vote yes or no on a referendum. You can vote for the right or the left party. Even in parliamentary democracies, the one-person-one-vote system requires determinism. You must absolutely prefer one party over all the rest. Voting is devoid of nuance.

As a result, much of our political debate is divisive. If you voted for reds and I’m a blue, apparently something is wrong with you. We don’t need to discuss whether some aspects of red appeal to us. It’s just “red or blue”. There’s no point in discussing a nuance because my vote isn’t nuanced.

A completely different conversation

Because we are so accustomed to one-person-one-vote, we often don’t consider different ideas for voting. Let’s start with how many proposals are on the table. If there are a minimum of three options, the conversation is different. Let’s take one of the most important issues for humans: peace. Peace treaties are one of the items often left to a referendum. Yet, the people only get one option. Yes or no. Why aren’t there three or four possible peace agreements for people to vote on? (Obviously, it’s because of the ineffectiveness of the negotiation process, which I’ll discuss in a later post on consensus. For now, let’s stick with voting.) Creating a system in which a minimum of three proposals need to be on the table before a vote creates a demand for creativity, and it also creates a richer conversation prior to the vote. It’s not longer us-versus-them, but a choice from a variety of options.

Once you have more than one proposal on the table, voting can take forms that, again, create different types of conversations prior to the voting. Here are some examples that technology now makes possible:

  • Veto-only. Allowing people to veto anything that is unacceptable is one possibility. For example, in a peace process where lives are at stake, you could say “veto the ones you can’t live with”. A veto would represent “some people are still oppressed”. Because anything is better than war, if you have to veto a proposal, it must be pretty bad. Every person could veto as many proposals as they find horrible, or veto three of five. In other words: one person, multiple votes. You can also see that saying “you can veto the bad solutions” creates a different discussion than “vote for as many as you like”.
  • Points to distribute. Instead of one vote, people could have 10 voting points. They could allocate them any way they like. If there are four proposals, they could give even points to every proposal (unlikely), or they could give six to their favorite and four to the one they think is a runner-up. Again, it’s easy to see how this creates a nuanced conversation. “Why only six points and not seven?” is a very different question than “Why not?”
  • Ranking is used in some democracies, where people can rank the candidates in order of preference.
  • Voting for sections. In one study of the FARC peace agreement, the researchers found there was only one divisive paragraph in the entire agreement. All of the other sections easily passed the majority. However, the referendum ultimately failed because people could only vote yes or no for the proposal in its entirety.
  • Staked voting. Different people have different weights of votes. Weighted or staked voting is discussed at length below.

The examples above are just a few ideas of how we could completely overhaul the idea of democracy to provide a richer experience of how voting creates not just different outcomes, but also a different culture of discussing the proposals. Going forward, I expect many other ideas to emerge on how to make better decisions through different representations of voting rights.

Staking as faulty nuance

Staking tokens today are making a step towards providing nuance. Staking tokens allow people to have different weights in their voting. Someone holding more staking tokens can have more votes or more influential votes than someone with fewer staking tokens. In some systems, such as Agur, this can make a lot of sense. Staking tokens are held by experts who can decide how much to stake on a particular decision, and their return on the stake depends on the correctness of their prediction. In a system where tokens can be earned but not bought, this makes sense.

However, in a system where tokens can be purchased, someone with a bad reputation could hold more tokens than someone with a good reputation. Steem is fundamentally flawed in this way. There’s no differentiation between tokens purchased and tokens earned. Furthermore, there’s no cumulative measure of tokens earned; just tokens held. Let me explain.

If you think of my professional reputation, you might represent that as “every dollar I’ve earned in my lifetime”. However, that isn’t the quantity of dollars in my bank account. The number of dollars in my bank account represents some function of what I’ve earned, what I’ve spent, financial decisions I’ve made, and gifts or inheritance. The amount of money in my bank account, in fact, has no correlation to my professional reputation. Similarly, on Steemit, if someone liked your video and you earned Steem, that represents your contribution to the platform’s value. If you buy Steem tokens, that doesn’t represent your reputation in any way. If you spend the reputation tokens, you now have less “reputation”, which makes no sense. It is now possible to design systems that would keep two separate representations of value: lifetime value as a contributor versus value of money in your account.

Now, you might point out that holding tokens creates value for the system. That’s true. Holding stake does make the whole ecosystem more valuable, so there is a different kind of value represented by people who buy and hold a token. In fact, if you think about a content system like Steem, you can see there are numerous types of “value”. Some people produce great content. Some people comment or share. Other people rank content. Being a great curator is a distinct talent, different from being a great commentator or great content creator. Being a great investor is yet another talent. Staking tokens are falling short of providing a real representation of value, creating a system where, in many instances, having more money or having gotten in early is more valuable than truly being awesome.

It’s a step in the right direction, but we’re not there. Most importantly, it’s essential that we create a system of reputation that can’t be bought. Currently, almost all of us live in nation-state situations where power can be bought. There is no such thing as decentralization where power can be bought. Money today is so unevenly distributed that the only way to decentralize power is to detach it from money. We won’t do that overnight, and maybe we won’t do it at all. But currently almost all of the staking tokens in the market can be financially manipulated.

New paradigms for staking

In reality, there are (at least) two aspects to consider in staked voting. The first and most obvious is “skin in the game.” If you own a home in a particular location, you care about the decisions made about that city. If you live in the home you own in that city, you care even more. In some ways, if you are a landlord of a multi-tenant property, you have more “skin in the game” but it might be the wrong kind of skin in the game. You might want zoning laws that deteriorate the quality of life because they allow you to fit more people in an apartment building. In that way, having more property in a location isn’t the same as really living there. Every situation is different, so when you create a weighted voting system based on someone’s stake in a particular system, it’s important to distinguish the type of stake that is most appropriate for getting the outcomes that are best for the system as a whole (or, better yet, for humans as a whole).

The second type of weight to consider in staked voting is expertise. If someone is truly an expert in urban planning or environmental impact, their knowledge might entitle them to more weight when they vote. Right now, we don’t have great paradigms for “expertise”, but in a decentralized system with staking tokens, there would be a record of someone’s voting history. It would be possible to set up a system where their reputation over time is based on the correctness of their decisions. DAOstack and DNN.media both have systems where they are tracking reputation over time based on how much someone’s opinion is respected by other people in the system.

Reputation tracking based on consensus/agreement of others makes sense in some systems, but it doesn’t measure real truth. Ideally, if we were trying to get some type of outcome, let’s say, reduction in pollution, there are objective measures that we can check. It is possible, over time, to know if someone has been correct in voting for proposals that actually improved air pollution. The reputation can be based on results, rather than education and experience.

Conclusions

We are only beginning to scratch the surface of what is possible in distributed organizations when it comes to decision-making. While we have been living with a certain type of democracy for hundreds of years, the system is fundamentally not producing results that represent the majority’s wishes. DAOs have the opportunity today to explore new forms of voting that produce better results for all parties involved.

In the next article, I’ll be discussing consensus and how proposals are created in these organizations.


Voting Determines the Conversation: How to Think About Staking Tokens was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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How to develop Android UI Component for React Native

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Android UI Component for React Native (Source: 47Billion)

In one of our project that we developed in React Native, we faced a problem. We wanted to use a video player with the text overlay. Though there are lots of implementation of video players in React Native, none of them provides such a functionality. So we decided to develop our own component and use it in the React native code.

This article describes how to convert any Android view component to a React Native component. This is required when you need to use any Android view or your custom view component in React Native app.

Create View

Create a React Native project. In the project we have Android and IOS folders for native code. Open the Android code in Android Studio and create a view using native java code.

Implement SimpleViewManager

Write a class which inherits from ViewManager. In this class specify which View from Android code is used in the React Native code.

public class VideoViewManager extends SimpleViewManager

The super class SimpleViewManager specifies that we are going to expose VideoView of Android to react native via this class. A ViewManager is a React Native interface responsible for instantiating and updating views in the app. The SimpleViewManager is a generic class that uses our view. We can use any view that already exists in Android like ImageView, VideoView, TextView, LinearLayout or we can implement and use a custom view. Here we are using VideoView.

In the manager use the following steps for initial setup of the component:

  1. Write a class which inherits from ViewManager or its subclass (SimpleViewManager)
  2. Implement method getName, which returns a string constant we use to get the manager from React Native
  3. Implement createViewInstance(ThemedReactContext reactContext)method in which we create an instance of the component and return the object.
public class VideoViewManager extends SimpleViewManager {
public static final String REACT_CLASS = “VideoView”;
@Override
public String getName() {
return REACT_CLASS;
}
@Override
protected VideoView createViewInstance(ThemedReactContext reactContext) {
VideoView videoView = new VideoView(reactContext);
return videoView;
}

4. If we want to send some data from React Native code to our component using props then we have to write an addition method to accept data in the component. See setVideoPath method in the code below.

public class VideoViewManager extends SimpleViewManager {
public static final String REACT_CLASS = “VideoView”;
@Override
public String getName() {
return REACT_CLASS;
}
@Override
protected VideoView createViewInstance(ThemedReactContext reactContext) {
VideoView videoView = new VideoView(reactContext);
return videoView;
}
@ReactProp(name=”url”)
public void setVideoPath(VideoView videoView, String urlPath) {
Uri uri = Uri.parse(urlPath);
videoView.setVideoURI(uri);
videoView.start();
}
}

Create Package Module

In order to call VideoViewManager from React Native, we have to register it using a Package Module. Write a class that implements the ReactPackage interface.

In the createViewManagers() method, instantiate ViewManager that we want to expose to React Native.

public class VideoViewPackage implements ReactPackage {
@Override
public List createNativeModules(ReactApplicationContext reactContext) {
return Collections.emptyList();
}
@Override
public List createViewManagers(ReactApplicationContext reactContext) {
return Collections.singletonList(
new VideoViewManager()
);
}
}

Add Package Module to Application Class

In the Application class of React Native project add package module in getPackages() method.

@Override
protected List getPackages() {
return Arrays.asList(
new MainReactPackage(),
new VideoViewPackage()
);
}

Implement React Native side

We have to create a JS file and implement the requireNativeComponentfunction. This function receives two parameters. The first parameter is the name of view manager that we have defined in the ViewManager class and returned via getName() method. The second parameter is an object that have props for the component.

Create VideoView.js in src folder. We need to import the component from this file to use it later.

import PropTypes from ‘prop-types’;
import { requireNativeComponent, ViewPropTypes } from ‘react-native’;
var viewProps = {
name: ‘VideoView’,
propTypes: {
url: PropTypes.string,
…ViewPropTypes,
}
}
module.exports = requireNativeComponent(‘VideoView’, viewProps);

Using Component

Now we can use our native component in the React Native app.

import React, { Component } from 'react';
import { StyleSheet, View } from 'react-native';
import VideoView from './src/VideoView';
export default class App extends Component {
constructor() {
super();
}
render() {
return (
style={{ flex: 1, justifyContent: 'center', alignItems: 'center' }}>
<VideoView style={{ flex: 1, width: '100%', height: '100%' }}       
url="https://www.radiantmediaplayer.com/media/bbb-360p.mp4" />

);
}
}

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this article, feel free to hit that clap button 👏 to help others find it.

Thanks to Atul Sharma @ 47Billion for details of code. This article is a part of the series of articles related to mobile technology. If you are looking for a Mobile app development team to build your solution, please contact us at info@47billion.com.


How to develop Android UI Component for React Native was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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5 ways tennis and investingincrease my productivity as a software engineer

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So another year has almost gone by, and I haven’t shared my thoughts as frequently as I had hoped to at the start of the year. At the start of the year, I was on 🔥🔥🔥. I felt like every single weekend I had a great idea to write about💡💡💡, and I was just fired up about the idea of sharing my ideas with others. But as time went on, and as I started getting pulled into more meetings, projects, and other commitments, I prioritized busy work over reflection. 😩😩😩

Photo by Ben O’Sullivan on Unsplash

🔎Lenses🔎

It’s extremely important to give yourself time to reflect and realize what you have done. 📓Think about where to go next, what to improve on, and what is working well. By writing, you are effectively organizing your thoughts, and connecting the dots between powerful ideas📓. I like to view life through different lenses🔎. One of the main lenses that I view life through is the lens of a tennis player. It’s natural for me. I am a tennis player. Always have been, and always will be. Another lens I try to view life through is the lens of an investor🔎. I haven’t always been an investor, but since starting my career, I view it as another opportunity to increase my professional output outside of work.

What I really want to explore today is how lessons learned through tennis and investing have helped me increase productivity in my job as a software developer/developer advocate.

  1. Patience. ⏳The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word ‘invest’ is time⏳. It takes a really long time to make money. You have to have a lot of money, to make money from that money. So at the end of the day, you have to be patient. Working in a large corporation such as IBM — there really is no substitute for time. Everything in the company has a specific process that one must follow to get the right result. That can be frustrating sometimes, but being patient is absolutely key.
  2. 👨🏻‍🏫Just because you are good at something, doesn’t mean you will be good at teaching 👨🏻‍🏫. This holds true for any skill. There is no substitute for being good at something, before teaching it. That is the prerequisite. To be a good teacher, you must be patient, empathetic, and innovative. If the student feels that you don’t have the patience to teach them, they will feel discouraged, and less eager to learn. If you can’t put yourself in your student’s shoes, you will have a hard time understanding their struggles, and coming up with a solution to their problem. And lastly, you will need to adapt your teaching style to your student. Is your student a visual learner? Create a video. Do they learn well with reading/writing? Show them a blog post. You get the point.
  3. Consistency is key. 🏃🏽‍A job is a marathon — not a sprint🏃🏽‍. Just because you did great on your last project, this doesn’t mean you can slack off on the next one and just take it easy. You have to pace yourself. This means taking vacations. 🌴🌴🌴Yes, vacations are important🌴🌴🌴. This means anticipating burn out and taking the steps necessary to reduce the probability of burn out. In tennis, I got extremely burnt out several times. I had to take long breaks (4 months to Hong Kong did the trick) to get my motivation back to where I was okay with dedicating 25+ hours a week to the team. With a job, you don’t have the luxury of taking 4 months off. You can take a week off, or 2, but that’s about it. So be strategic in your vacations, and be strategic about working over-time. Sometimes you need to do it, but just realize that it might lead to burning out in the future if you don’t give your body and mind time to relax after a stressful project.
  4. 🗣Over-communicate, rather than under-communicate, with your boss🗣. Being a 5-year team-member on the UC San Diego NCAA Men’s tennis team taught me to always, always, always, ESPECIALLY during the negative times, to communicate with my coach. If there is something that is hindering me from performing at my peak, I tell my coach (in software development, that would be my boss). More often than not, they will work with you to get you back to performing at 100%. If there is some dispute, miscommunication, or just something plain old bad happened, tell your boss right away. Look, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that life is not all sunshine and rainbows. Sure, it’s uncomfortable, and maybe it doesn’t paint the best picture of you to your boss, but your boss is the only one that is really on your side (or at least they are supposed to be). They will help you fix it. And one way or another, that dispute or problem will get back to your boss, whether you like it or not. I bet they would rather hear it from you, rather than from someone else. So again, time is important — be transparent with your boss as soon as something (good or bad) happens.
  5. ️🛑✋🏼🛑Learn when to push back️🛑✋🏼🛑. ⚠️This one is the toughest and the most sensitive⚠️. When you disagree with the direction of the project, the team, or the company, it’s important to voice your opinion. How you do that, is an extremely sensitive, and debatable subject. On one hand, if you come off too strong, you run the risk of being disrespectful or even insulting. Similarly, if you come off too soft, you run the risk of others ignoring your opinion because they think you are not fully behind it. But pushing back, saying no, or voicing your opinion is a key part of being a successful software engineer. Asking why, and understanding why you are implementing something rather than just blindly doing it will help you and your team clearly articulate project requirements. While there is no guarantee that by pushing back your idea will be accepted, the benefit comes from putting your idea out in the open and letting others understand where you are coming from. Who knows, maybe your idea will be the one that is actually implemented in the end!

👋🏼Conclusion👋🏼

While tennis and investing might be completely unrelated to software development, there are many lessons to be learned and applied to not only software development, but any job in the modern-day workplace 👨🏻‍💻. So again, to recap, be patient. Things will happen. I’ve learned that enjoying the day-to-day grind of your job is the only way to be happy🤪. This means making things fun at your job. For me, that’s playing ping pong at the office. Throwing jokes out to my coworkers. Just overall having a good attitude. Trust me, the results will come, you just have to be willing to put in the time and effort.

Remember that just because you are skilled at something, doesn’t mean you will be a good teacher. Practice teaching, breaking things down, and be willing to take feedback from your students👨🏻‍🎓. After all, they are your main stakeholder as a teacher. Again, understand that work is constant. It’s a long-term game. Just like investing. When you invest, you are thinking 10–20–30 years down the road. That’s how you should be thinking career-wise too. Ensure you keep yourself healthy and happy so that you can last 30–40 years in your career.

And of course, communication is everything in the workplace. Just like being a successful doubles player in tennis requires good chemistry with your partner, the same is true in the workplace. That chemistry is built through communication🗣. Spending time with your team. Sharing experiences, thoughts, and feedback is critical. And last but not least, you have to stand up for what you believe — whether that is in or out of the workplace. If you feel that there is something REALLY wrong with your design for your client, bring it up. There likely is something wrong if you feel so strongly about it. Just because someone is more experienced (a senior, a manager, a CEO, you name it), doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t share your thoughts with them. Again, be respectful, delivery is everything. But stand up and be a leader. That is the only way change happens. 🙌🏼

Again, thanks for reading, and hope you learned something from this article. As always, feel free to comment, share, like or dislike, follow or unfollow, burn it, do what you want with it. 👋🏼👋🏼👋🏼

P.S. This might or might not be the start of me blogging a lot. Stay tuned.


5 ways tennis🎾 and investing📈increase my productivity as a software engineer was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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CalPERS Gives Unqualified CEO a Bonus and Raise 

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The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) is the largest state pension fund in the United States. As we recently noted, CalPERS hired as chief executive officer Marcie Frost, even though she lacked a college degree of any kind. It was as though the state Supreme Court tapped for chief justice a paralegal who had never been to law school. The revelation about Frost sparked criticism around Sacramento, but CalPERS bosses weren’t listening. 

On September 25, CalPERS awarded Frost a raise of 4 percent and a bonus of $84,873 on top of her base pay of $330,720. Previous CEO Anne Stausboll topped out at $322,400 and bagged bonuses of $86,587 in 2010 to $131,044 in 2015. Taxpayers might wonder about bonuses for either boss. CalPERS unfunded liabilities have increased 383 percent in ten years, and the massive state pension fund is some $100 billion short of funding its pension obligations. The unqualified Frost does enjoy the support of government employee unions, whose role at CalPERS is to protect incompetence. 

A former CalPERS manager known to this writer passed up a football scholarship to a Big 10 college in order to earn graduate degrees in business administration. He worked in the technology industry and CalPERS was his first experience in a government agency. One of his employees was spending hours a day on personal phone calls, which he noted on her performance evaluation. Two union goons promptly appeared in his office claiming that the employee needed more training. The fully qualified manager soon departed for a job where accountability, not incompetence is rewarded. 

Meanwhile, taxpayers might expect the state director of finance to be a proven economist with a PhD. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pick was Ana Matosantos, with only a BA in political science and feminist studies, a non-discipline. Jerry Brown kept Matosantos on the job, and Covered California, the state’s wholly owned subsidiary of Obamacare, hired her for $20,000 a month. 

***

K. Lloyd Billingsley is a Policy Fellow at the Independent Institute and a columnist at The Daily Caller.

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