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  1. When conflict broke out in 2011, Ankara mistakenly under-estimated the strength of the Assad regime and supported hardline Islamist groups seeking its downfall. In the process, Turkey also marginalised the Kurds and alienated regional powers like Iran.

    Four years on, Assad looks set to hold onto power and his regime will be a central part of a transition plan, one that foreign powers were negotiating last weekend. Turkey’s regional rival, Iran, is a key player which can no longer be ignored by the West. Not only does the pro-Assad alliance now have Russian support firmly on its side, but the international community is no longer focused on defeating the regime – instead, it is concerned with defeating jihadist groups like Isis.

    The shift in focus is a significant drawback for Erdogan. Years of support for, and investment in, Islamic fundamentalist groups like Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria) and Ahrar al-Sham are about to go to waste. Ankara has played a significant role in allowing Isis and other jihadists to flourish in Syria and the region. Turkey has acquiesced to jihadist groups entering Syria via Turkey as well as their use of Turkey as a transit point for smuggling arms and funds into Syria.

    The Kurds in Syria, meanwhile, have established themselves as a reliable Western ally and have created, in the process, an autonomous Kurdish region that has reinvigorated Kurdish nationalism in Turkey and across the region - much to Turkey’s dismay as it continues a brutal military campaign to repress the Kurds.

    In other words, Turkey has no interest in the peaceful settlement to the conflict in Syria that world powers are negotiating.

    The West appeased and bolstered Erdogan in Turkey in the run-up to the country’s elections, with the aim of securing a deal with Ankara on the refugee crisis. It may now regret that. Erdogan is not only likely to drive a hard bargain but he may also walk away.

    He has never cared much for the EU and has only sought engagement with the West when under pressure at home. But Turkey is not an indispensable ally and should not be considered as such. Unless the West starts to seriously exert pressure, Erdogan will have little incentive to stop his damaging policies.
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  2. The input file is 25fps so we need to use exactly the same frame rate for the output, otherwise you will either observe the video going at the wrong speed or there will be a conversion that is CPU intensive and degrades the quality. Also check that the resolution_percentage setting under the picture dimensions is 100%:
    Tags: , by M. Fioretti (2015-11-25)
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  3. Il problema è la distinzione, nota agli esperti della materia ma evidentemente meno al nostro governo, tra contesti cooperativi (in cui il soggetto si pone deliberatamente di fronte alla telecamera per l'identificazione) e non cooperativi (in cui ciò non avviene).

    Se il riconoscimento facciale attualmente fornisce buoni risultati nei primi, dicono gli studiosi, nei secondi l'efficacia cala paurosamente. E a meno che non si pensi che un terrorista voglia concedersi quello che i media chiamerebbero un "selfie" in favore di videosorveglianza, c'è da dubitare che quell'apparato di controllo sarebbe da solo in grado di fare davvero la differenza nel contrasto della minaccia ISIS al nostro paese.

    Lo diceva Jay Hauhn a CSO, lo scorso anno: «Dopo l'11 settembre, riconoscimento facciale e video avrebbero dovuto risolvere tutti i nostri problemi. Beh, non è accaduto»
    Tags: , , by M. Fioretti (2015-11-25)
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  4. Russia had it coming. Turkish fighter jets today shot down a Russian Su-24 in what was allegedly a violation of its airspace. Russia promptly denied the transgression but Turkey remains adamant it only acted in self-defense -- and after giving multiple warnings. If proven right, it won't be the first time Russian jets have made incursions into the Turkish territory. There are multiple reports of Russian jets getting too close for comfort in the past. The incident reflects the growing brazenness of the Russians after their much-touted quasi-invasion of Syria. It also indicates the limits of Russian power, contrary to what President Putin loves to boast about. His Syrian policy is bound for failure and coercion is not the right way of making others kowtow his line.

    The downing might as well become the starting point of many cat-and-mouse games in the future. Still, Putin would have a lot to think about before ordering aggression of any sorts into Turkish territory. The latter is a NATO member and can seek assistance from allies. There is also a possibility that Turkey over-reacted but the Russian position is more vulnerable. The downed jet was operating in a foreign country without the auspices of the United Nations and without coordinating with the Turkish airspace controllers. No country can tolerate airspace violation, more so when coming from an alien rather than a neighbor.

    Putin's Syrian endgame has been discussed at length on this platform and on other outlets. On the pretext of targeting the Islamic State, he's annihilating the moderate opponents of Bashar al-Assad. Putin believes in a scorched earth policy and couldn't care less for collateral damage. Russian jets are largely targeting civilians and abetting the Iranian and Hezbollah-backed militias. The policy has resulted in a high death toll and will not resolve the crisis, which, to Putin, is a complete restoration of the despotic regime.

    Let's get our facts straight. Islamic State presents a real threat to the world. Russia might have done the world a favor by working with regional and global partners to address it. It could have spearheaded the emerging alliance to counter the threat. On the contrary, Putin has used the boogeyman to advance its blinkered agenda in the Middle East. The vociferous support for the brutal dictator has turned Putin into a villain in the Middle East and the broader Muslim World
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  5. quella dei Digital Champion(s) è la macchina perfetta, per questo Governo. Sono tutti dentro, quindi nessuno critica. Qualche esempio? Basta dire che un’associazione che vede al suo interno i maggiori esperti italiani di Open Data in oltre un anno di attività non è riuscita a pubblicare il dataset dei suoi iscritti. Alla faccia della trasparenza. Basta dire che molti dei membri attivi di questa associazione avrebbero fatto fuoco e fiamme per le dichiarazioni odierne di Renzi sulla sicurezza, eppure tutto tace. Alla faccia della coerenza. Insomma: un buon modo per disporre di un esercito di alleati pronti a schierarsi compatti contro chi vuole discutere e scostarsi dall’opinione del capo. Un cocktail fatto per una parte di persone competenti, per una parte di persone in buona fede e per il resto di un buon numero di altre persone deficitarie di una o di entrambe le caratteristiche precedenti.
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  6. They get you hooked for free and the next level is $1,496 per month… wtf! MongoLabs is little better. I don’t understand why everything is becoming an exorbitantly priced service. Keep in mind, platform as a service providers should have templates for hard-to-set-up stateful services like MongoDB.

    Rather than use templates from IAAS providers, I should be able to use someone else’s platform running on my chosen cloud/IAAS provider (call it what you like), like Amazon, to put pressure on them to lower prices. If they know it is easy to leave, their prices will go down. Let’s take back some of our ability to do hard things wherever we choose so that running a database does not cost … wait, what, $21,430 per month?

    Please, tell me I’m crazy. Tell me why I’m wrong. I sincerely want to know. So many products are inches from being able to compete with Amazon and give choice back to developers whether they want to run on Amazon or retain a bit more freedom (perhaps even run in another cloud or local cloud environment). Soon, Kubernetes will allow complicated stateful services to run inside containers.

    Meanwhile, Amazon announces competing components daily. Amazon has API Gateways, CloudFormations to spin up almost any stack or service, CodePipeline for continuous delivery, load balancing; you name, it they have it.

    Using Amazon for everything feels wrong to me.

    Now, you might be wondering, what is the problem? Just go with Amazon, everyone is doing it. “You aren’t cool unless you’re using Amazon.” I do work for a large organization that can afford to run everything on Amazon (maybe ;  some would disagree). However, I also work intensely on the multi-way trading platform That has no VC funding; I have learned to “do more with less.”
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  7. Williams was elected governor with the support of about seven percent of the Louisiana electorate.

    A lot of the people who stay home would vote for Democrats if they bothered to vote at all. This problem goes far deeper than better techniques for getting out the vote. It reflects a massive decay of civil society, a deep disinterest and contempt for government and politics, one that often seems richly earned.

    This is also the soil in which fascism grows. As political scientists have demonstrated for more than a century, it is "mass society," in which people are disconnected from the "little platoons" beloved of Edmund Burke and the local associations celebrated by Toqueville, where a strongman can suddenly seem the solution to people's inchoate frustrations with their own lives and the irrelevance of politics.
    Tags: , , , by M. Fioretti (2015-11-23)
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  8. For the most part, planting has been done based on simply knowing the field. Information is passed down through generations. One field is more productive than another and everybody just knows that. Farmers that really want the details of the ins-and-outs of their soil can hire someone to come in and sample their soil, but it’s an expensive undertaking. “A lot of farmers don’t do it. A lot of farmers will say their ground is the same from one end of the field to another,” says Stacey Pellett, a customer and channel experience manager at John Deere.

    But the reality is, soil is much more complex than history leads us to believe. The chemical makeup of a field can change in less than a foot. And getting the data is only half the battle. Once you know how a field differs from foot to foot, you have to have the equipment that can understand these differences and implement change. In the last five years, a new way of planting has popped up that uses high-tech mapping, organization, and planting. Called precision farming, it’s an enormous leap forward technologically from the age-old paper maps.
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  9. The exit plan should be based on pilot projects that consider alternatives, the city council decided. With 53 of the total 67 votes, the council changed the city’s desktop software plans. The councillors want applications to become independent from PC operating system or office productivity tools. And in late 2018, when desktop operating and office licences expire, Bern has to publish an open call for tender, using vendor-neutral specifications.

    “Basically, from now on, the IT department may only procure and implement solutions that are platform-independent”, the councillors agreed on Thursday.
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  10. what will that money be used for? Well, the concept is fairly straightforward, the student team explains. Get their hands on a RecycleBot, rebuild it to be able to recycle No. 1 and 2 plastics and create a whole bunch of 3D printable filament. The RecycleBot, as you might know, is a cheap filament solution, spending about a $1 or so on filament.

    The only problem is that it only works on No. 7 plastics, which includes PLA and ABS. Both are malleable when heated and solid when cool, making them perfect for multiple processing runs. That, sadly, doesn’t really work for No. 1 (EPT) and No. 2 (HDPE) plastics. ‘PET is hard to get in useable form where you can actually make filament. You have to get it dry and get the temperature just right, or rather than plastic thread, you’ll get burned plastic and water,’ they say of the material. EPT is especially used for bottles and jugs.

    No. 2 plastics, that are often used for toys and shampoo bottles, however, are easier to work with and the student team has already had some recycling success with them. Over the coming months, the idea is to refine the recycling process for both to produce filaments, and to make the process scalable. ‘We are grateful to the Ford Motor Company Fund for supporting this project that will demonstrate how plastics that are recycled in our community can be converted locally into commercial products,’ said Pete Cattelino, associate director of industry relations at Michigan Tech. ‘The university works very closely with Ford on automotive-related projects. It’s also great to have a project outside the automotive focus that will make a difference for the environment and our community.’

    The first results of this recycling project are expected in the spring of 2016, when the team will have to present their work to Ford.
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