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  1. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    Kim Jong-un reformed North Korea’s intelligence agency, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, andfocused its practice on cyberwarfare after coming to power in 2011.

  2. kalenjin shared this story from HOME.

    [This article appears in our June 2018 issue of ETF Report.]

    Factor ETFs have grown in popularity, whether single factor or multifactor. While multifactor funds say they can smooth out the ride, sometimes it’s hard to tell which factor may be contributing (or detracting) from performance.

  3. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    A silhouette of a man in front a spreadsheet.

    Google Sheets is becoming more and more like Microsoft Excel.

    Last month, Google released a major update of its web-based spreadsheet program. The most important new addition is macros, a way to automate tasks. Microsoft Excel has had the feature for over a decade. The Sheets version closely mirrors what you can do in Excel.

    Macros are incredibly useful. If you’ve ever had to repeat the same task, like formatting the look of a spreadsheet or making the same chart of similar sets of data, using a macro can save a lot of time. Instead of going through the process again and again, you can record yourself doing it once, and the macro will remember what you have done. With the click of a few buttons, you can also apply the action to a new dataset. (The real spreadsheet jockeys manually write out a script that tells the macro what to do.)

    Here’s a video Google made to explain how recording macros work in Sheets:

    By adding macros, Google Sheets continues to grow into a viable alternative to Excel for most spreadsheet users. And unlike Excel, Sheets is free. Excel costs $130 for a one time purchase, or $7 a month as part of a Microsoft Office Suite subscription for an individual. Sheets are also better for collaboration, as the program was developed for ease of use and online sharing.

    Still, for those who use spreadsheets for serious data analysis or visualization, Excel remains the superior product. Excel has more built-in formulas and functions. Simple tasks like sorting and filtering are easier in Excel. It also has more charting options. For example, Gantt charts and flow charts are built in to Excel, but have to be drawn manually in Google Sheets.

    That said, if you are using macros regularly, it probably means Excel versus Sheets isn’t the question you should be asking. You should probably consider learning a statistical programming language like R or Python. Although these languages have steep learning curves, once you learn them they are even better for completing repeated tasks. Recording macros is great. Writing code is even better.

  4. kalenjin shared this story from Feed: All Latest.

    Thanks to some innovations at Bell Labs, you’ll soon be able to express your heart through your sleeve.
  5. kalenjin shared this story from Visual Capitalist.

    Infographic: What is Stock Fraud?

    What is Stock Fraud?

    Every investor out there is looking to get a nice return on their money.

    That’s why claims about guaranteed returns or “can’t miss” opportunities can be extremely tempting when they appear. After all, many people have been grinding it out for years in the markets – and rightfully they may feel overdue for their big moment.

    But as always, opportunities that are too good to be true must pass the smell test. And most of the time, if you do your homework, they fail with flying colors.

    Defining Stock Fraud

    Today’s infographic comes to us from StocksToTrade and it highlights stock fraud, which can be described as a violation of security law that occurs when a fraudster compels an investor to buy or sell based on false information.

    Importantly, there are many different varieties of stock fraud to recognize, and they all have distinct characteristics that make them unique:

    Corporate Fraud
    Using “dummy” corporations to create the illusion of representing a corporation with a similar name. Investors are then misled to buy shares in the dummy corporation, rather than the real thing.

    Boiler Rooms
    High-pressure selling technique used to peddle shares in speculative or fraudulent securities on the phone.

    Pump and Dump
    False and/or fraudulent information spread to increase the price of a thinly traded stock. When the stock hits a target price, the dumper sells to rake in substantial profits. Those left holding the stock are stuck and must sell at a loss.

    Insider Trading
    When a security is illegally traded based on material, non-public information.

    Short and Distort
    Similar to a pump and dump, this involves the spread of rumors or false information to profit from short-selling a stock.

    Ponzi Scheme
    A type of pyramid scheme where money from new investors provides the return for old investors.

    Prime Bank
    These are scams where fraudsters claim that funds will be used to buy bank instruments that don’t exist.

    Accounting Fraud
    Management intentionally manipulates accounting policies or estimates to improve financial statements. It could involve overstating revenues, understating expenses, overstating corporate assets, or understating existing liabilities.

    How to Avoid Stock Fraud

    How can these potential scams be avoided?

    For starters, make sure you take time to do your own independent research on any security you buy. If something seems like it is overly complex, rushed, or if important information seems to be omitted, there is likely a reason for this. In a similar vein, Warren Buffett wisely advocates that a business should be simple and easy to understand, or he won’t invest in it.

    Further, it’s worth researching the salesperson touting the investment before making any decisions. Records from securities regulators are often one Google search away – and any disciplinary history should be known before proceeding with any transaction.

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  6. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    When is the best time to sign up for MoviePass? That’s a tough question to answer.

    Since slashing its price to $9.95 per month last August, the US subscription service, which lets users into a movie showing per day, has rolled out new offers practically every month—each almost better than the last:

    • In December, it partnered with Costco to offer a full year of MoviePass and movie-streaming service Fandor for $89.99. That worked out to around $7.50 per month.
    • Later that month, it made the offer available to anyone, with a 5% surcharge for non-Costco members.
    • In February, it upped the price of that offer to $135.30, including a $19.95 processing fee.
    • In March, it lowered the cost of an annual subscription to $89.95 (including a $6.55 processing fee), which came out to $6.95 per month.
    • In April, it partnered with iHeartRadio to offer a 3-month subscription to both services for $29.99. This plan included four movies per month, unlike the other movie-per-day packages.
    • It later tweaked the three-month iHeartRadio promotion to include three movies per month for $7.95 per month, replacing the $9.95 unlimited plan for a time.
    • The unlimited plan returned in May. The $7.95 a month “limited time offer” is still advertised, too.
    • Also in May, it announced plans to add new plans and features, like the ability to bring a friend, upgrade to a premium format like 3D, or subscribe to and pay for plans as a family.

    There’s nothing wrong with testing new prices; doing so shows the company is trying to figure out what works best for customers and its bottom line. But what’s strange—and a bit concerning—is the frequency and scale with which MoviePass is making these changes. Startups normally test plan changes in select markets or geographies before rolling them out more broadly, so they can smooth out the kinks.

    “What MoviePass is doing is a little unusual in that it’s a very vocal and visual and public representation of that [user] testing,” says Michael Duda, managing partner at Bullish, a firm that has invested in early-stage startups like Casper, Warby Parker, and ClassPass. “It sends a very confusing signal as to how well their business is doing. You wouldn’t make this many changes in this short a time on this kind of scale. It’s dubiously fascinating.”

    MoviePass, founded in 2011, tested many, many pricing and plans options, ranging from $15 a month for a few movies to $99 for unlimited movies in certain markets, before landing at the $9.95 rate in August 2017. Major theater chains like AMC argued it was too little to charge per month for virtually unlimited moviegoing, when the average movie ticket in the US costs $9.16. In markets like New York and Los Angeles, a standard movie ticket can cost upwards of $15.MoviePass pays theater owners the full price of each ticket that itssubscribers use.

    CEO Mitch Lowe, who advised MoviePass briefly four years prior to joining the company in 2016, says MoviePass needed to do something drastic to grow its audience, which had stalled at around 25,000 subscribers. When the company was charging $35-$45, Lowe said, customers were going to the movies 2-4 times a month to get their money’s worth. In other words, MoviePass was only signing up heavy moviegoers. What it needed to reach a critical mass—and convince theater chains to cut it bulk deals on ticket prices—were casual moviegoers who could be convinced to go to cinemas more often if it were more affordable.

    With backing from its new parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics, which acquired a majority stake in the business in August 2017, MoviePass lowered its price to $9.95—roughly the cost of a month of Netflix.

    Lowe was right. MoviePass now has 2.7 million members.

    But its customers are still going to the movies a lot. MoviePass reported this week that people who signed up between November and March are going to the movies at least twice a month. At that rate, it’s losing $8.37 per month on each subscriber on the $9.95-a-month plan.

    Lowe said new members tend to go to the movies most frequently during their first three months on the service. Then usage settles. He added that the company hopes to break even on subscriptions, and grow the business from other revenue streams, like advertising and promoting films on the service.

    For the first nine months of 2017, MoviePass generatedabout $5 million from subscriptions and spent $9.6 million on related costs, statements filed after the company was acquired by Helios and Matheson Analytics show. Helios and Matheson’s new subscription and marketing business line, made up entirely of MoviePass, posted a $98 million loss for the full year of 2017.

    MoviePass has credited recent price drops to its “customer-centric strategy.” But the plans, especially those that require a year’s payment upfront, may belie a deeper business problem. MoviePass is running out of cash.

    The company reported on May 8 that it had $15.5 million on hand and another $27.9 million that would be disbursed throughout the year from people who paid for plans upfront. It also said it had been burning, on average, $21.7 million a month since October. The math suggested MoviePass would only be able to sustain itself for a few more months, though Helios and Matheson CEO Ted Farnsworth told Variety that the company also has a $300 million line of credit it can draw from.

    MoviePass is working on cutting costs by 35%, Farnsworth said in the May 8 filing. Late last month, just before Disney’s record-setting blockbuster Avengers: Infinity War kicked off the busy summer movie season, MoviePass barred users from seeing movies more than once. (Longtime subscribers may recall this was an old policy that MoviePass brought back.) It’s also trying to cut down on users sharing accounts by requiring subscribers to upload images of their tickets before they can see their next movie.

    “One of the things that we always advise our subscription clients is don’t put an offer out that is not sustainable just to grab market share,” says Jim Fosina of Fosina Marketing Group, which works with subscription services to market their platforms. “Because at some point you’re going to have to make that adjustment… Can you afford to fulfill what you’re offering at the price point?


    Read next: MoviePass, desperate to prove itself, is adding a bunch of new features

    Read next: Wall Street is so sure MoviePass will fail, it’s become incredibly expensive to short

  7. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    Gregory Rivers, left, on stage with Cantopop superstar Alan Tam in 1986 in Sydney, Australia.

    Gregory Charles Rivers is arguably the most famous gweilo in Hong Kong.

    His name might not ring a bell in his native Australia, but Rivers’s face is instantly recognizable for people who’ve grown up watching TVB, Hong Kong’s largest broadcaster and a mainstay of Chinese homes around the world. Over his prolific 20-year acting career, he’s appeared in more than 200 soap operas in typical white-guy parts like high-ranking police officers and foreign ambassadors in dynastic China.

    Rivers calls himself “Hong Kong’s greatest gweilo extra.” Here he is in 2004 in the role of a foreign ambassador in one of TVB’s period dramas. Photo courtesy Rivers.

    His fluent Cantonese and love for Hong Kong has earned him great popularity among local young people fighting to safeguard their cultural identity amid mainland China’s growing influence on the city’s affairs.

    But none of this was part of Rivers’s plans when he bought a one-way ticket to Hong Kong from Australia in 1987. What he wanted to do was follow in the footsteps of his heroes: Cantopop stars Alan Tam and Leslie Cheung. Now, three decades later, the 53-year-old will finally get that opportunity with his debut concert taking place in Hong Kong on May 31 and June 1.

    “If I don’t do this now, this might never happen in my whole life,” Rivers told Quartz in an interview conducted in Cantonese. “I just want to tell people that if you work hard, your dream will eventually come true.”

    The Cantopop dream

    Born in Gympie, Queensland, Rivers was studying medicine at the University of New South Wales when he heard a new genre of music played by his Hong Kong classmates in their dormitory.

     “I cannot explain why I loved it so much. I bought the vinyl records and learned the Chinese lyrics while my other Australian friends were into heavy metal.” 

    The catchy melodies by the likes of Alan Tam and Leslie Cheung were sung in a language he did not understand. “I cannot explain why I loved it so much,” he recalls. “I bought the vinyl records and learned the Chinese lyrics while my other Australian friends were into heavy metal.”

    Then by chance, he landed a gig in Sydney to be Tam’s driver during a show in 1986. His love for Cantopop was recognized by Tam’s people, and he was invited to sing on stage with him.

    That tantalizing taste of Cantopop stardom led him to move to Hong Kong a year later, adopting the Chinese name Ho Kwok-wing: Ho (河) is the Chinese character for river, and Kwok-wing (國榮) is an homage to the late superstar Leslie Cheung, who had the same given Chinese name. As it would turn out, Rivers did find stardom, just not in music, though he continued singing in small showcases.

    He thought of giving up on his music ambitions, but in 2016, he was asked to perform at a music-awards show organized by local satirical magazine 100Most. He performed two songs, including the rap song “True Hong Kong Land” (video above), and was presented the best Hong Kong male singer at the gala. “It gave me hope again,” he said.

    His Cantonese singing is also popular in the mainland. Last year, he was invited to perform on Shanghai’s Dragon Television. Of more than 70 foreigners singing Chinese pop songs, he was among two who performed in Cantonese. The Chinese show hosts were impressed with both his Cantonese singing and conversational Mandarin. A video of his performance (below) was viewed more than 2 million times on the mainland.

    Cantonese’s unlikely advocate

    Rivers has prepared 40 songs for his two-night show titled Dare to Dream—a mix of mostly Cantopop with a few Mandarin titles. The songs he’s chosen are supposed to reflect his own Cantopop journey, and include two of his early favorites: “The Root of Love” and “Will Never Think About You” by Alan Tam. One of the most challenging songs Rivers will sing is Eason Chan’s “Under Mount Fuji,” which he spent months practicing because he said it could come off as robotic if not performed correctly.

    A true Hongkonger: Rivers sings to his curry fishballs. Photo courtesy Rivers.

    Getting ready for the concert means overseeing many other details, such as the concert art. Under his creative direction, he decided for one photograph to pose as if he were singing but into a skewer of curry fish balls, an iconic Hong Kong street food, instead of a microphone.

    After one of these planning meetings, he and his wife, Bonnie Cheung, decided to go to a cafe in Kowloon and ended up in a heated discussion. But it wasn’t concert arrangements they were talking about. Rivers was giving his point of view about a contentious paper from Hong Kong’s education bureau (link in Chinese).

    The paper, written in 2013 by Chinese scholar Song Xinqiao, caused public outcry this month when it resurfaced online. The report, which states that Cantonese is merely a dialect, not a mother tongue, quickly became the talk of the town.

    “Cantonese is, of course, Hong Kong’s mother tongue. How can you argue about that?” said Rivers. These days, Rivers admits he speaks Cantonese more than English and is prone to weaving Hong Kong slang into his text messages, which are composed, of course, in Chinese.

     “Cantonese is, of course, Hong Kong’s mother tongue. How can you argue about that?” 

    Cantonese, the lingua franca of Hong Kong, remains a source of tension between Hong Kong and the mainland. Since Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997, the Hong Kong government has made moves to diminish the influence of Cantonese. In 2014, Hong Kong’s education bureau had claimed in an article on its website that Cantonese was not an official language, but the piece was swiftly removed amid public discontent. Benjamin Au Yeung, an expert in Cantonese and former senior lecturer at Chinese University in Hong Kong, has accused the government (video in Cantonese) of intentionally suppressing the teaching of Cantonese to gain Beijing’s favor.

    In a town brimming with expats, Rivers’s views on Cantonese is one of the reasons locals see him as one of their own. In a 2016 interview, his fierce defense of Hong Kong culture (video in Cantonese) and concern that Cantonese could one day vanish earned him wide regard as a “genuine Hongkonger.” In a way, one can see his upcoming concert as both a dream 30 years in the making and a love letter to his adopted home and language.

  8. kalenjin shared this story from CBC | Canada News.

    Emily Nield

    An Ontario woman says she wants the Georgia police officer who arrested, handcuffed and charged her because she had a Canadian driver's licence, to be held accountable.

  9. kalenjin shared this story from Visual Capitalist.

    View a high resolution version of this graphic
    Infographic: A World of Languages

    Infographic: A World of Languages

    View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

    Languages provide a window into culture and history. They’re also a unique way to map the world – not through landmasses or geopolitical borders, but through mother tongues.

    The Tower of Babel

    Today’s infographic from Alberto Lucas Lopez condenses the 7,102 known living languages today into a stunning visualization, with individual colors representing each world region.

    Only 23 languages are spoken by at least 50 million people. What’s more, over half the planet speaks at least one of these 23 languages as their mother tongue.

    Chinese dominates as a macrolanguage, but it’s important to note that it consists of numerous languages. Mandarin, Yue (including Cantonese), Min, Wu, and Hakka cover over 200 individual dialects, which vary further by geographic location.

    CountryNative Chinese speakers (millions)
    Total1,197 million
    China1,152.0
    Taiwan21.8
    Hong Kong6.5
    Malaysia5.1
    Singapore1.8
    Thailand1.2
    Vietnam0.9
    Philippines0.7
    Myanmar0.5
    Macau0.5
    Other6.0

    Chinese is one of the most challenging languages for English speakers to pick up, in part due its completely unfamiliar scripts. You’d have to know at least 3,000 characters to be able to read a newspaper, a far cry from memorizing the A-Z alphabet.

    Spanglish Takes Over

    After Chinese, the languages of Spanish and English sit in second and third place in terms of global popularity. The rapid proliferation of these languages can be traced back to the history of Spanish conquistadors in the Americas, and British colonies around the world.

    Animation: Map of Colonization (1492 – 2008):
    Colonization Map

    Today, Spanish has 399 million native speakers, but these are mostly concentrated in Latin America. English has 335 million native speakers under its belt, with a widespread reach all over the globe.

    Two Worlds, One Family

    While the visualization makes all the world’s languages seem disparate, this linguistic family tree shows how they grew from a common root. It also explains how languages can evolve and branch out over time.

    Language Tree

    Created by Minna Sundberg. Full version.

    This linguistic tree also includes many languages that are not on the large visualization of 23 mother tongues. Some of them might be considered endangered or at risk today, such as Catalan or Welsh. However, with globalization, a few interesting linguistic trends are arising.

    1. Language revival
    Certain enclaves of marginalized languages are being preserved out of pride for the traditional and cultural histories attached.

    While Catalan was once banned, its rebirth is a key marker of identity in Barcelona. More than 150 universities teach Catalan worldwide. In the case of Welsh, a mammoth university project plans to make sure it does not die out. Researchers are compiling ten million Welsh words to preserve the past, present, and future of the language.

    2. Language forecast
    At this point in time, English is the lingua franca – adopted as a common language among speakers with different mother tongues. However, this status might soon be fuzzier as demographic trends continue.

    The rise of China is an obvious one to consider. As China continues to increase its economic might and influence, its languages will proliferate as well.

    At the same time, 26 African countries are projected to double their current size, many of which speak French as a first language. One study by investment bank Natixis suggests that Africa’s growth may well bring French to the forefront – making it the most-spoken language by 2050.

    Is it possible that French provides a certain je ne sais quoi that no other language can quite replace?

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  10. kalenjin shared this story from Quartz.

    A computer with a screen above it showing some cyber code.

    Hadley Wickham is the most important developer for the programming language R. Wes McKinney is among the most important developers for programming language Python. The two languages, which are free to use, are often seen as competitors in the world of data science. Wickham and McKinney don’t think the rivalry is necessary. In fact, they think that by working together, they can make each other’s languages more useful for their millions of users.

    Last month, McKinney announced the founding of Ursa Labs, an innovation group intended to improve data-science tools. McKinney will partner with RStudio—Wickham’s employer, which maintains the most popular user interface for R—on the project. The main goals of Ursa Labs are to make it easier for data scientists working in different programming languages to collaborate, and avoid redundant work by developers across languages. In addition to improving R and Python, the group hopes its work will also improve the user experience in other open-source programming languages like Java and Julia.

    R and Python are essential tools for data scientists working at tech platforms like Google and Facebook, researchers, academic researchers, and data journalists (Quartz is a big user of both). A common problem for coders is that it’s hard to collaborate with colleagues who use one of the other languages. Ursa Labs will try to make sharing data and code with someone using another data science language easier, by creating new standards that work in all of them. Developers call this an improvement to “interoperability.” Wickham and McKinney have already worked together to create a file format that can used in both Python and R.

    Besides making collaboration easier, Wickham and McKinney tell Quartz that a key motivation for the project was watching developers in each language solve the same problems, but not share what they found with one another.

    For example, Wickham explains that in every language people need to be able to calculate averages. This is a simple process for users, involving one line of code in R or Python. But for the languages’ developers, it is a tricky problem to figure out the best way for that one line of code to perform the calculation. Developers in R and Python both tend to solve this problem in the languages C++ and C—languages that are good for development, but tricky for the average user. Ideally, Wickham says, if a developer in one language figures out the best way to do something, it should be applied in every other language. That’s the main mission of Ursa Labs.

    Wickham and McKinney add that besides solving technical problems, the project also serves as an effort to make peace between programming tribes. The more that people using these languages work together, they say, the better it is for data science in general. “I hope it ends the pointless feuding between R and Python,” says Wickham. “Both languages are awesome.”