Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hack the Quake

Direction Katmandu  and HackTheQuake

A technology competition is taking place in Kathmandu next month with an aim to innovate new projects to help the national reconstruction process in wake of the devastating April 25 earthquake and its aftershocks.


IoE Alumni, a network of ex-students of the Institute of Engineering (IOE) of Tribhuvan University, and Janaki Technology Pvt Ltd are jointly organising the HackTheQuake event, that will award three best technologies with Rs 50,000 and help execute them.


Issuing a press statement today, the organisers have called for "innovative ideas and concepts that use locally available resources, are cheap to make and do not require a lot of hi-tech equipment." The ideas can cover a number of sectors such as temporary housing, toilets, drinking water access, information access, and solar electricity access.


Tech enthusiasts can submit their proposals to help the reconstruction process by June 15 and the best three proposals will be selected by a judging panel and public voting.





How to get kids' attention? Skype in the classroom

How are some teachers getting kids interested in learning? Skype in the classroom!

Skype is making waves in the classroom, quickly becoming one of best ways to get kids interested in learning is to make it fun and interactive. TODAY's Erica Hill reports.


To Spark Creativity, Pursue Happiness


If you want to increase creativity, it helps to be happy. Positive emotions increase our curiosity in the world around us and open our minds to new experiences, skills and ideas. In PBS's series This Emotional Life, they discuss the link between creativity and positive emotions:

Researchers have found that creativity is less likely to occur in the presence of sadness, anger, fear, and anxiety—and that it is more likely to occur with positive emotions, such as joy and love. One study found that people are more likely to come up with a creative idea if they felt happy the day before, and then they feel happy when they are creative. Creativity contributes to an "upward spiral" of positive emotions and greater happiness.

Just by being creative, we can kick start an upward spiral of positive emotions which allow us to handle the often negative environment we create within. 

What happens when the stress becomes too much to bear? We can create our way out of that as well. In an article from The Telegraph, they suggest three activities inspired from our childhood to reduce stress: coloring, writing and physical play. By focusing on a simple repetitive task, coloring calms our mind and acts as a meditative technique. Writing for 15 to 30 minutes about a stressful life event improves not only your mood, but also physical health, memory and sleep. And how could jumping on a giant trampoline or playing in an adult ball pool not put you in a good mood?


Windowless Planes to Hit Skies in Next Decade, Company Says

ABC News and Vimeo

Imagine flying on an airplane and being able the clouds all around you. That's what one company plans on achieving in the next 10 years -- an airplane without windows.


The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), a U.K.-based cutting edge technology association, envisioned the next generation aircraft in efforts to conserve fuel, while drastically transforming the customer experience.

"Removing the windows will significantly reduce the weight of the aircraft, saving fuel and therefore reducing operational costs," says Matthew Herbert, marketing manager for CPI. "The windows will be replaced by high quality flexible OLED displays that are connected to digital cameras integrated into the exterior of the plane," he says.

Lower operational costs, the company claims, will in turn result in reduced airfares.


Machine-Learning Algorithm Mines Rap Lyrics, Then Writes Its Own

Technology Review

University of Aalto researchers developed a machine-learning algorithm that recognizes the salient features of a few lines of rap music and then chooses another line that rhymes in the same way and is about the same topic. The researchers focused on the way assonance, which describes the repetition of similar vowel sounds, appears in rap lyrics. The researchers trained the DeepBeat algorithm on a database of over 10,000 songs from more than 100 rap artists. DeepBeat converts words into phonemes and then scans the list of phonemes looking for similar vowel sounds while ignoring consonant sounds and spaces; it also seeks sequences of matching vowel sounds in the previous two lines or so, and defines the rhyming density as the average of all the longest sequences in the lyrics. This technique enabled the researchers to rank all the rap artists in the database according to their rhyming density. The team used this metric to compare the automated raps with human-generated ones. They programmed DeepBeat to analyze a sequence of lines from a rap lyric and then choose the next line from a list that contains randomly chosen lines from other songs as well as the actual line. "An 82-percent accuracy was achieved for separating the true next line from a randomly chosen line," says University of Aalto's Eric Malmi.


Brain implant allows paralysed man to sip a beer at his own pace

New Scientist

Implants placed in the region of the brain that governs planning of motor movements could give people who have suffered spinal injuries more fluid movement. The California Institute of Technology's Richard Andersen and colleagues placed an implant in the posterior parietal cortex of a man paralyzed from the neck down. They report the man controlled a robotic arm with unprecedented fluidity. People with similar injuries have controlled prosthetic limbs using implants placed in the motor cortex, but placing implants in an area of the brain responsible for the mechanics of movements has resulted in delayed, jerky motions, as the person thinks about all the individual aspects of the movement. Each implant contained electrodes that recorded the activity of hundreds of individual neurons, and the patterns of electrical activity from each neuron firing while the subject imagined making different arm and eye movements were recorded for almost two years. The researchers then transmitted data from the implant to a computer, which translated it into instructions to move a separate robotic arm. "We thought this would allow us to decode brain activity associated with the overall goal of a movement--for example, 'I want to pick up that cup', rather than the individual components," Andersen says.


Smartphones, Twitter Help Gauge Crowd Size

University of Warwick researchers used data from Twitter and from Italian phone companies to develop a computer model that can accurately show the size of a crowd. The model could help first responders in an emergency, according to the researchers. The mobile phone system is cellular, meaning it is a grid comprised of pockets where users are connected via a relay antenna. When there are more users in a pocket, a spike can be seen in the volume of phone calls, short messaging services messages, and tweets. The researchers transcribed these spikes into estimates of crowd numbers. They first calibrated the model on data collected during 10 soccer matches at the San Siro stadium, where the attendance was known. The researchers then used the model to estimate the number of people at Milan's Linate airport at different times of day. "Accurate estimates of the number of people in a given location at a given time can be extrapolated from mobile phone data, without requiring users to install further applications on their smartphones," the researchers note.


Lessons in Creative Alchemy from Black Sabbath


…the value of embracing the problem of your problem. A way of using the weight of an obstacle to your advantage. Consider this the next time you're faced with an impossible brief, or an unreasonable, yet unmovable, demand. At such a point you have three choices. You can fight against it. You can give up. Or, as Mr. Iommi did, use the cruel hand that fate has dealt you to your advantage and create a whole new kind of music.


Food & Wine unveils its emoji keyboard for foodies


Time Inc.'s Food & Wine has rolled out an emoji keyboard that includes a burger, taco and even a cronut.

The keyboard features more than 25 emojis, GIFs, and stickers that the company says reflects "the biggest food obsessions of the moment."

Emojis also include chefs and trendy restaurant dishes, such as the live-ant-covered shrimp at Copenhagen's Noma


Your Next Tweet Could Save an Endangered Animal

Adding a smiley face, shining sun or a cute monkey emoji to a social media post can enhance the message more than simply using words. The World Wildlife Fund has taken a cue from the world of emojis and is using the colorful and animated icons to improve the lives of animals in need.
Through their new campaign #
EndangeredEmoji, users are invited to tweet 17 handpicked animal emojis to raise funds to directly aid their real life animal counterparts. Each emoji is worth €0.10 ($0.11), and at the end of the month WWF will tweet users with their total #EndangeredEmoji use, providing a link to donate.


Friday, April 10, 2015

#79 Carve Out Social Times

Michael Lee Stallard

Schedule regular social time for people to connect. Genentech has weekly Friday afternoon social times where they serve drinks and snacks. We know a manager who orders pizza and salad for his team every other Friday.

During the warm summer months, organize an ice cream social on Friday afternoon to bring your team together for conversation (include fruit for the those who prefer a more healthy alternative). You should help serve those in attendance and once everyone is served make your way around to say hello to everyone. Avoid talking about work matters and instead ask people about their interests outside of work and what they are looking forward to over the remainder of the year.

This is the seventy-ninth post in our series entitled “100 Ways to Connect.” The series highlights language, attitudes and behaviors that help you connect with others. Although the language, attitudes and behaviors focus on application in the workplace, you will see that they also apply to your relationships at home and in the community.


4 Techniques to Develop Leaders

Leadership Done Right

The world we live in is crying out for people to guide other people that don’t have a sense of direction. There’s so much terror and poverty in so many countries over the world and the tragic thing is that there’s nobody doing anything about it. It’s a widely renowned fact that things don’t change for anyone until they themselves try to change the course of things. For that reason, it is very important to develop leaders.

This leads us to the topic of this article: How can a person, a normal person that used to not care about anything in their life, step up and lead a caravan of people to a brighter destiny? How can that person develop leaders in others to progress and improve? How can the course of things be changed by the will and zeal of people led by a formidable leader? The answer to these questions is simple: It’s human nature to find some driving force and make it the reason of the rebellion.

It’s a common man who has to wait for someone else to take the initiative and raise a voice, but it’s a leader, a special human being, a person with increased will and fervor to change how things are carried out that shapes the destiny of a nation.

Develop Leaders

So, today let’s discuss what could and should be the essential qualities in a person in order to act properly as a leader. If you have made up your mind and want to lead a certain group of people, then these are the things to remember:

1.     Remember Your Status:

2.     Motivate: Another important part of leading a group of people is to motivate them whenever you find the time.

3.     Learn to Share: When you desire to develop leaders, remember that whatever comes into your knowledge needs to be shared with the people that believe in you.

4.     Stay firm: Last but not the least, you need to stay firm yourself. You can’t just feel a bit of pressure and bail out or try to take a break.


Seven Ways Curious Leaders Succeed

Leadership Freak

Question what you know; explore what you don’t. Curiosity is a way of seeing. 4 powers of curious leadership: Curious leaders: Lower resistance. Ignite energy. Expand potential. Explore possibility. Lower resistance expand opportunity. 7 ways curious leaders succeed: Enable thinking from a new point of view. “What don’t you know?” Challenge assumptions. “How’s that working for you?”

1.             Enable thinking from a new point of view. “What don’t you know?”

2.             Challenge assumptions. “How’s that working for you?”

3.             Reveal new capacities. “Did you know that you’re really good at…?”

4.             Expose unseen obstacles. “What if….?”

5.             Clarify ambiguities. “Could you help me understand …?”

6.             Share experience. “What has experience taught you?”

7.             Connect with others who have experience. “I wonder who might know about this?”

The world is filled with information, but curiosity solves problems.


The Incredible Work Habits of 12 Great Artists

Mental Floss

What does it take to make great art? Work habits and muses may vary.

1. Salvador Dali

2. Gerhard Richter


4. Willem de Kooning

5. Andy Warhol

6. Henry Darger

7. Leonardo da Vinci

8. Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

9. J.M.W. Turner

10. Michelangelo




The Stats On Women In Tech Are Actually Getting Worse

Huffington Post

Google just hired Ruth Porat, a former Morgan Stanley executive, to be its chief financial officer, and is paying her a reported $70 million. You’d think that’s a sign that things are looking up for women in the tech industry.

Not quite.

The percentage of computing jobs held by women has actually fallen over the past 23 years, according to a new study.

In 2013, just 26 percent of computing jobs in the U.S. were held by women, down from 35 percent in 1990, according to the study released Thursday by the American Association of University Women, a nonprofit that promotes gender equality. During that same period, the number of women earning computing degrees also declined.


Best Advice: You Can Do Better

LinkedIn - Douglas Conant   All #BestAdvice

It is my belief that even the briefest interactions wield limitless potential. The power of a few well-timed and sincerely delivered words can have life-changing impact. I’ve seen it firsthand, and benefited immensely from the advice delivered to me in pivotal moments throughout my life and leadership journey.

I’ve written about the many resounding interactions with mentors, colleagues, family, and friends that have influenced my behavior; their words have meant so much to me, and left an indelible imprint. I’ve also spoken about the TouchPoints that have defined my work and life trajectory in keynote speeches, and I’ve celebrated the infinite capacity of brief interactions to leave a positive imprint, in my book co-authored with Mette Norgaard, TouchPoints.

But of all the moments — of all the helpful, indispensable words spoken to me — I think the one that cast the most memorable light on my life was a call-to-action from a revered mentor, which challenged me to reach beyond my current capabilities.


100 Leadership Quotes I’m Memorizing by End of 2015

Paul Sohn

1. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations. — Peter. F Drucker

2. If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. — John Quincy Adams

3. Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what do do and let them surprise you with their results. — George S. Patton

4. Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it. — Dwight D. Eisenhower

5. Great leadership is about human experiences. It’s not a formula or a program. It is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine — Lance Secretan

16. The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. — William Arthur Ward

31. In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock — Thomas Jefferson

100. You teach what you know; you reproduce what you are. – Leif Hetland


How to Create a Learning Environment

Switch and Shift

Organizations cannot really change people and educate them, that is something employees have to do themselves. As a manager, if you feel responsible for people’s self-development–and you should be–a good alternative is to tweak the environment so that people change themselves, educate themselves, and start developing the desired habits.

One company that understands this well is the Australian software company Atlassian. Once every three months, they select a day on which everyone in the company works for the entire day on an idea of their own choosing. The requirement is that they deliver a result in just 24 hours, hence the name ShipIt day. (The original name was actually FedEx day, but the FedEx company started to voice concerns about this.) Several other organizations, including Facebook and Spotify, organize similar internal events called hackathons or hack days. It pretty much boils down to the same thing. Business stands still for one day—some people even stay at the office for a whole night—and everyone learns.


The Innovative Organisation: Learning From Design Firms


The world’s top design firms have innovation down to almost a science. For traditional incumbents looking to build innovative capabilities, design can be the ideal catalyst.

Designers’ most valuable capabilities have nothing to do with Photoshop, or any tool or technique for “designing”. They are much more about setting a direction than executing directives, more about shaping creativity to practical needs than indulging flights of fancy. By observing how many design firms work, I have identified three core organisational capabilities at which they particularly excel, which also comprise the rudiments of any innovation journey: user-centric insighting, deep and diverse ideating, and rapid and cheap iterating.


How Trust Can Unlock Superior Performance

Conant Leadership

In a high-trust environment, populated by contributors with great competence and laudable character, even the most challenging task can be accomplished. Often without much fanfare. People do what they say they are going to do. Contributors listen carefully to one another to safeguard against miscommunication. Engaged colleagues rally around a shared vision, have each other’s back, and are aligned properly to produce results that meet, and often exceed expectations. Trust is the lubricant that enables the high-functioning human machinery of an ideal enterprise.


Put simply: breeding high-trust is essential to delivering extraordinary results in an enduring way.


As you might expect (or may have even experienced), the alternative is all too common and yields a much less desirable result: a low-trust environment, where competence is questionable and character is murky; in these workplace climates, even the most mundane task can seem unachievable. The efforts of the group become marred by chaos. I contend that in the absence of trust, potential doom looms large. Mistrust causes discord when people fail to listen to one another. It festers and begets resentment when people don’t do what they say they’re going to do. It multiplies exponentially as people strive in futility, without a clear direction or alignment around goals. Mistrust thrives in the pettiness and incompetence it helps to create, and it almost always leads to sub-optimal performance.

This is why building trust is the absolute first thing a leader must do. When I developed the Campbell Leadership Model as CEO of Campbell Soup Company, Before a leader can create direction, align the organization, build vitality, or deliver excellence – the trust must be there. Before he or she can surpass the expectations of all the stakeholders, materialize a transformational initiative, or steady a ship that has drifted off course, the trust must be there. Without it, there will simply be no foundation for results. Think of trust as the roots – and everything else a leader must manifest as the tree. You’ve got to put down the roots if you expect the branches to sprout, grow strong, and inch ever-higher towards the sky.


Think Like a Scientist


This is a remix/edit made from two short videos by science journalist Alan Dove


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Scientific & Technical Oscars 2015: Complete list of winners

Times of India

…the winners for Scientific & Technical Awards for this year have been announced. Named after late veteran Hollywood sound director Gordon E. Sawyer, this award is given to an individual in the motion picture industry whose technological contributions have brought credit to the industry.


Devices give blind filmgoers Oscar-worthy experience

Boston Globe

Like a lot of movie buffs, Carl Richardson loves to take in the Oscar-nominated films during the run-up to the Academy Awards. But it can be frustrating because he’s blind. He’s able to follow the movie’s story line when there’s dialogue, but it’s confusing when there’s silence, or during action scenes.

This year, though, is different. Seven of the eight films nominated for best picture use so-called “descriptive” technology that makes them more accessible to the visually impaired, and Richardson is happily working his way through the Oscar contenders.

The technology involves transmitting an audio description of scenes to moviegoers who wear a programmed wireless headset, providing an additional track of narration during natural pauses in the film. It describes the action and provides context when there is no dialogue to guide the moviegoer.


For the Oscars, theater gets a tech upgrade

CBS News

During the show, technology will help stars and their fans connect through social media. This year, the Oscar green room, designed by Architectural Digest, will have Samsung tablets and a "GIF mirror" to let celebrities send out their emotional reactions over Twitter.

The Academy has also added a 4G LTE cell tower for connectivity

Apple shot its Oscars ad with the iPad Air 2

The Verge

The commercial features several groups of high school students as they shoot different projects using the iPad as their camera, overlaid by an inspirational voiceover from Martin Scorsese, who extolls the virtues of hard work and experimentation as the keys to creative success. And while the piece has the kind of delicate score and evocative images that one would expect from an Apple ad, the spot was actually shot on the iPad Air 2 itself.

For the commercial, Apple partnered with the LA County High School for the Arts, a performing and visual arts school located in Los Angeles. Student filmmakers were provided with iPads and shot their projects over a weekend, during which their efforts were documented — also using an iPad Air 2. That behind-the-scenes footage is what makes up the ad.


Next up at the 2016 Oscars: Virtual Reality


Imagine a cinematic world that goes beyond 2D or even 3D—one that’s so immersive that you’d swear you could reach out and touch the characters and surroundings. Not only that, but you decide how the movie ends by exploring different paths within the storylines. While previously just a fantasy for filmmakers eager to draw audience members in, this has quickly become feasible, thanks to advancements in virtual reality technology.


Suddenly, we’re on the brink of an entirely new movie medium. Looking down the road a bit, could future Oscars nominees actually be virtual reality movies?


The Oscar Goes to… Engineer Larry Hornbeck and His Digital Micromirrors

IEEE Spectrum

At some point during Sunday’s Oscars telecast, in between actresses in stunning ball gowns, actors trying to redefine the tux, movie clips, dance routines, and acceptance speeches cut off when they go on too long, there will be a nod to the technology that makes it all possible. An announcer will talk about the Academy’s Science and Technical Awards, presented earlier this month, then an Oscar-winning engineer will wave from the audience. Don’t blink, or you might miss it.

This year, that engineer will be Larry Hornbeck, who developed the digital micromirror device (DMD) used in Texas Instruments’ digital light processing (DLP) projectors. He gets the Academy of Motion Pictures Award of Merit (that’s the official name for what most of us call the Oscar) for the invention.

Micromirrors—some 8 million on the 4K resolution version—tilt to turn pixels on and off by steering light. Hornbeck began working on an analog version of the technology in 1978; he developed the digital device in 1987; TI sold the first chipset in 1996; and Hornbeck saw the first major motion picture screened using the technology in 1999. Today the vast majority of theaters that project movies digitally use DLP.

Oscars nominees see online piracy surge


American Sniper would win best picture and Birdman's Alejandro Inarritu best director if the Oscars were determined by online piracy rates, a study says. It suggests being nominated in one of the four major categories has a particularly profound effect on illegal downloads of indie and art house films.

The authors suggest that producers of such movies become more flexible about how and when their titles are released. But one industry expert said that was easier said than done.

The report was carried out by Irdeto, a Netherlands-based company that sells piracy controls to the pay-TV sector. It used "crawler" software to monitor downloads via Bittorrent peer-to-peer file-sharing services around the world and says its figures represent the minimum number of illegal downloads.


Chelmsford's Axis Communications to provide video security technology for the Oscars

Biz Journals

Axis Communications, a Swedish company with its North American headquarters in Chelmsford, has struck a deal with the Los Angeles Police Department to provide video security technology for the Oscars this Sunday.  Several of Axis's Internet-connected cameras will be strategically placed in and around Hollywood's Dolby Theater, and the images will be transferred to the police station's command center so that officers there can relay information to those stationed at the event, said James Marcella, director of technical services at Axis. "The Oscars (event) is temporary in nature, and these cameras aren't placed there year-round," Marcella said in an interview. "So, they need a technology that can be deployed quickly and can interface through wireless technology back to the command center."


Axis has been providing video-security for the Oscars for at least three years, Marcella said. The event is one of the most challenging from a security perspective, he said. That's because certain colors — like the bright hue of the red carpet — are hard for cameras to render, and flashes from light bulbs on cameras change the lighting in the video transmission feeds dramatically.


Comcast to Tout Technology for the Blind During Oscars


Comcast CMCSA +1.12% will make its debut as a national advertiser in the Oscars in Sunday’s telecast. The topic won’t be promotions or new services, but rather TV technology for the blind.


The cable giant is running a nationwide, 60-second ad promoting its new talking guide that reads aloud titles and selections to help visually impaired and blind people surf through their TV guides, set digital video recordings and browse video-on-demand options. Comcast says it’s the first such guide offered in the U.S.


Typical 60-second spots for the Academy Awards tend to go for $4 million apiece. While the cable giant tends to buy regional ad spots to hawk its promotions, Comcast says it’s going national with this ad because it wants to spark a broader conversation about improving the entertainment experience for disabled people. The company believes the talking guide could not only help those who are blind, but also seniors and people with reading disabilities.

The Oscars And Social Media: When Facebook Can Be Better Than Twitter


Yes, Ellen’s selfie was a decidedly better way to break the Internet. And as I mentioned last year, while I was on a train coming home during the Oscars, it was Twitter TWTR +0.84% that kept me updated. So I understand that when it comes to Hollywood’s big night, Twitter and television are the perfect pairing in many homes.

But let me make a case for why Facebook might be the better social media for your Oscar companion tonight, with one important caveat: If you are mainly interested in what’s making instant news (good, bad and ugly) then stick with Twitter. It’s like watching the Oscars at a public screening where it’s expected that people can snark at will. But if witticisms from the Twitterati are wearing thin for you, consider my partner’s plan for a Facebook Oscar party, which is much more like having your friends over.

We hosted an Oscar party for years when we lived in Kansas City and it was always the rowdiest party of the year. When we moved to NYC and then Colorado, we missed those parties, so the next best thing was to host a physical-virtual mash-up. It turns out the virtual party had its own virtues, because it brought friends together from many locations, and it worked better for those who didn’t need to hire babysitters.


Can You Solve Neil Patrick Harris' Oscars 2015 Anagrams?

Just Jared

If you follow Neil Patrick Harris on Twitter, you probably saw him tweeting some nonsensical phrases a few weeks ago after the Oscars nominations.

The 41-year-old actor came up with a bunch of Oscars-themed anagrams for his followers to solve and to celebrate the awards show happening this weekend, we gathered them all up for you here along with the answers.


Oscars 2015: Big Data number crunchers try their hand at calling the awards

LA Times

Given that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is an anonymous body of about 6,600 — and not, say, a market with decades of history or an election with dozens of finely honed polls — there's no reason to think Big Data will do better than the insider pundits (or dart-throwers) at predicting the Academy Awards. In fact, members of the data community have acknowledged this, notably in a FiveThirtyEight post last year titled "Why It's Hard to Predict Oscar Winners" that concluded that "for now, a market-beating Oscar prediction model is probably out of the picture."

Still, that hasn't stopped many outlets, including FiveThirtyEight itself, from trying.

Here are some of the more notable efforts, including their methodology and their sure-fire, numbers-tested winners for this year.

Facebook Creates Trending Experience for Oscars


The 87th Academy Awards will be presented Sunday night, and Facebook created a Trending Oscars experience for users looking to join the conversation.

Facebook is also teaming up with ABC Entertainment, allowing fans to ask nominees questions via the Facebook page for Good Morning America, as well as incorporating real-time Facebook data on the most-buzzed-about nominees into the television network’s red-carpet broadcast.

Engineering manager Yuval Kesten, strategic partnerships executive Kelly Michelena and product marketing manager Peter Yang said in a Newsroom post that last year’s Oscars generated 25.4 million combined posts, comments and likes from 11.3 million users.


Why There Should Be an Oscar Category for Dramatic Research

The Atlantic

The annual fact-checking cycle hasn’t yet persuaded Hollywood films to transfigure all their biopics and historical dramas into documentaries. Writers theorize that publicly disputing the period details may contribute to a film’s failure to pick up a win or even a nomination, but lack of screeners and late releases could easily also be a factor when we’re talking about surmising the motivations of the primarily old, male Academy members who vote. If anything, the sheer volume is drowning out when these fallacies matter and when they don’t. This isn’t to say that the idea of complicating one person’s version of history should stop—it's to say the practice should be challenged, made better, more helpful.

Some suggestions have already been offered. At The Washington Post Ann Hornaday posed new rules for watching biopics. According to her regulations, the audience should cultivate a “third eye” that would straddle the consideration of the facts with an appreciation for fiction. This is democratic—but also puts the onus entirely on the viewer. Fact-checking opinion pieces originate with viewers taking a film a tad too seriously, sure—but if universally poor movie-watching form was to blame, we might be besieged year-round, given the healthy number of stories based on real events that roll in, to less fanfare, year-round.

There have been some proposals for systematic reform, too. Last year a piece in USA Today suggested movie studios might benefit from “couching” their films in more fictional terms. That’s fair, but the quoted analyst’s solutions were limiting—he suggesting not using real names, only telling really old stories, and writing a happy ending.


Acad’s Sci-Tech Oscars Raise the Bar On ‘Wow’


From finding new ways to shoot the most adrenaline-infused car chases to taking exhibition audio into new frontiers, this year’s recipients of the Academy Scientific & Technical Awards are pushing the limits of cinema in every way they can.
These awards are sometimes called the Sci-Tech Oscars, but most honorees are given plaques or certificates, as opposed to the fabled statuettes. Only two of the awards come with actual Oscars and those nods aren’t given every year, though this year both will be presented.

Bing has your Oscars 2015 predictions cheat sheet all filled out


Microsoft has also put its Bing technology to work to pick World Cup winners, who was projected to win each NFL football game, the winner of the Super Bowl, Grammy winners, and more. It’s worth noting that Bing did fairly well in picking weekly NFL football winners—getting about two-thirds right, according to Business Insider—about what Las Vegas oddsmakers predicted. (Bing predicts winners “straight up,” while Las Vegas factors in a point spread.) Microsoft also correctly picked the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl, and the winner for Record of the Year and more at the Grammy awards.

Naturally, Microsoft also has a printable Oscar ballot for you to fill out. Who do you think will win? You can tell us below, or just shout it to the world on social media—chances are that Bing will see it.