18 Jan 2020

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Lebanon's president asks army, security chiefs to restore calm in Beirut

Lebanon's president asks army, security chiefs to restore calm in BeirutLebanon's President Michel Aoun asked the army and security commanders to restore calm in central Beirut, where security forces clashed with protesters on Saturday night. Aoun called on them "to protect the safety of peaceful protesters and of public and private property, and to restore calm to central Beirut," the president's office said.


18 Jan 2020 5:30pm GMT

Boy arrested after shooting that killed 4 in small Utah town

Boy arrested after shooting that killed 4 in small Utah townA boy armed with a gun killed three children and a woman inside a Utah home, then accompanied a fifth victim to a hospital, where he was arrested, police said Saturday. Police were still trying to piece together who's who and what happened leading up to Friday night's shooting in Granstville, a town of 11,000 about 35 miles (56.33 kilometers) west of Salt Lake City. "We're trying to make certain that we verify people's relationships among the deceased and the survivor," Grantsville Police Cpl.


18 Jan 2020 5:20pm GMT

Facebook apologises after vulgar translation of Chinese leader's name

Facebook apologises after vulgar translation of Chinese leader's nameFacebook Inc said on Saturday it was working to find out how Chinese leader Xi Jinping's name appeared as "Mr Shithole" in posts on its platform when translated into English from Burmese, apologising for any offence caused and saying the problem had been fixed. The error came to light on the second day of a visit by the president to the Southeast Asian country, where Xi and state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi signed dozens of agreements covering massive Beijing-backed infrastructure plans. A statement about the visit published on Suu Kyi's official Facebook page was littered with references to "Mr Shithole" when translated to English, while a headline in local news journal the Irrawaddy appeared as "Dinner honors president shithole".


18 Jan 2020 5:20pm GMT

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Panicking About Your Kids and Their Phones? The New Research Says Don't.

Panicking About Your Kids and Their Phones? The New Research Says Don't.SAN FRANCISCO -- It has become common wisdom that too much time spent on smartphones and social media is responsible for a recent spike in anxiety, depression and other mental health problems, especially among teenagers.But a growing number of academic researchers have produced studies that suggest the common wisdom is wrong.The latest research, published Friday by two psychology professors, combs through about 40 studies that have examined the link between social media use and both depression and anxiety among adolescents. That link, according to the professors, is small and inconsistent."There doesn't seem to be an evidence base that would explain the level of panic and consternation around these issues," said Candice L. Odgers, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, and the lead author of the paper, which was published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.The debate over the harm we -- and especially our children -- are doing to ourselves by staring into phones is generally predicated on the assumption that the machines we carry in our pockets pose a significant risk to our mental health.Worries about smartphones have led Congress to pass legislation to examine the impact of heavy smartphone use and pushed investors to pressure big tech companies to change the way they approach young customers.The World Health Organization said last year that infants under a year old should not be exposed to electronic screens and that children between the ages of 2 and 4 should not have more than an hour of "sedentary screen time" each day.Even in Silicon Valley, technology executives have made a point of keeping the devices and the software they develop away from their own children.But some researchers question whether those fears are justified. They are not arguing that intensive use of phones does not matter. Children who are on their phones too much can miss out on other valuable activities, like exercise. And research has shown that excessive phone use can exacerbate the problems of certain vulnerable groups, like children with mental health issues.They are, however, challenging the widespread belief that screens are responsible for broad societal problems like the rising rates of anxiety and sleep deprivation among teenagers. In most cases, they say, the phone is just a mirror that reveals the problems a child would have even without the phone.The researchers worry that the focus on keeping children away from screens is making it hard to have more productive conversations about topics like how to make phones more useful for low-income people, who tend to use them more, or how to protect the privacy of teenagers who share their lives online."Many of the people who are terrifying kids about screens, they have hit a vein of attention from society and they are going to ride that. But that is super bad for society," said Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute, who has published several studies on the topic.The new article by Odgers and Michaeline R. Jensen, of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, comes just a few weeks after the publication of an analysis by Amy Orben, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and shortly before the planned publication of similar work from Jeff Hancock, the founder of the Stanford Social Media Lab. Both reached similar conclusions."The current dominant discourse around phones and well-being is a lot of hype and a lot of fear," Hancock said. "But if you compare the effects of your phone to eating properly or sleeping or smoking, it's not even close."Hancock's analysis of about 226 studies on the well-being of phone users concluded that "when you look at all these different kinds of well-being, the net effect size is essentially zero."The debate about screen time and mental health goes back to the early days of the iPhone. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a widely cited paper that warned doctors about "Facebook depression."But by 2016, as more research came out, the academy revised that statement, deleting any mention of Facebook depression and emphasizing the conflicting evidence and the potential positive benefits of using social media.Megan Moreno, one of the lead authors of the revised statement, said the original statement had been a problem "because it created panic without a strong basis of evidence."Moreno, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin, said that in her own medical practice, she tends to be struck by the number of children with mental health problems who are helped by social media because of the resources and connections it provides.Concern about the connection between smartphones and mental health has also been fed by high-profile works like a 2017 article in The Atlantic -- and a related book -- by psychologist Jean Twenge, who argued that a recent rise in suicide and depression among teenagers was linked to the arrival of smartphones.In her article, "Have Smartphones Ruined a Generation?," Twenge attributed the sudden rise in reports of anxiety, depression and suicide from teens after 2012 to the spread of smartphones and social media.Twenge's critics argue that her work found a correlation between the appearance of smartphones and a real rise in reports of mental health issues, but that it did not establish that phones were the cause.It could, researchers argue, just as easily be that the rise in depression led teenagers to excessive phone use at a time when there were many other potential explanations for depression and anxiety. What's more, anxiety and suicide rates appear not to have risen in large parts of Europe, where phones have also become more prevalent."Why else might American kids be anxious other than telephones?" Hancock said. "How about climate change? How about income inequality? How about more student debt? There are so many big giant structural issues that have a huge impact on us but are invisible and that we aren't looking at."Twenge remains committed to her position, and she points to several more recent studies by other academics who have found a specific link between social media use and poor mental health. One paper found that when a group of college students gave up social media for three weeks, their sense of loneliness and depression declined.Odgers, Hancock and Przybylski said they had not taken any funding from the tech industry, and all have been outspoken critics of the industry on issues other than mental health, such as privacy and the companies' lack of transparency.Odgers added that she was not surprised that people had a hard time accepting her findings. Her own mother questioned her research after one of her grandsons stopped talking to her during the long drives she used to enjoy. But children tuning out their elders when they become teenagers is hardly a new trend, she said.She also reminded her mother that their conversation was taking place during a video chat with Odgers' son -- the kind of intergenerational connection that was impossible before smartphones.Odgers acknowledged that she was reluctant to give her two children more time on their iPads. But she recently tried playing the video game Fortnite with her son and found it an unexpectedly positive experience."It's hard work because it's not the environment we were raised in," she said. "It can be a little scary at times. I have those moments, too."This article originally appeared in The New York Times.(C) 2020 The New York Times Company


18 Jan 2020 3:19pm GMT

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A 'naked philanthropist' who says she raised $1 million for Australia's fires is now sending nudes to people who donate to Puerto Rico

A 'naked philanthropist' who says she raised $1 million for Australia's fires is now sending nudes to people who donate to Puerto RicoKaylen Ward says she raised $1 million for Australia, sending nudes to people who donated. Now she is doing the same, raising money for Puerto Rico.


18 Jan 2020 2:44pm GMT

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Nike's controversial Vaporfly shoes powered the world's 2 fastest marathoners to victory. When I tried them, it felt like running on rocking horses.

Nike's controversial Vaporfly shoes powered the world's 2 fastest marathoners to victory. When I tried them, it felt like running on rocking horses.The Nike Vaporfly shoes are 4% more energetically efficient than other brands. I thought I knew what to expect when I put them on, but I was shocked.


18 Jan 2020 1:11pm GMT

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Impeachment: is Trump set to survive and win a second term?

Impeachment: is Trump set to survive and win a second term?As Democrats marched the articles to the Senate, the president basked in policy success. Many think re-election is comingIt was, the White House tweeted on Friday, "an incredible week" for Donald Trump. On that, no one could disagree. But what kind of incredible depended on which end of Pennsylvania Avenue you were standing.At the Capitol, the third impeachment trial of a US president got under way in hushed solemnity as senators contemplated the ultimate sanction, removing Trump from office. It was a day his most ardent critics had long awaited and some thought inevitable.Yet the White House, less than two miles away, might have been in a different cosmos. The president held a boisterous ceremony to sign a trade agreement with China, "the biggest deal anybody has ever seen", and celebrated as Congress passed another deal with Canada and Mexico. He toasted stock market records, low unemployment and a sustained fall in illegal crossings at the southern border.It had the makings of an election year narrative of "promises made, promises kept" that Trump's campaign hopes will resonate more than a Senate litigation of his dealings with Ukraine which, in any case, appears certain to lead to his acquittal."He seems determined to check as many boxes as he can," said Bill Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington. "If you look at the three pillars of the distinct outlook he brought with him to the White House - getting tough on immigrants, leaning hard against unbalanced trade relationships and an 'America first' foreign policy - you'd have to say over recent months he's gone three for three."To be sure, there was plenty of bad news for Trump. Democrats from the House of Representatives marched funereally through the Capitol to transfer the articles of impeachment, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, to their Senate counterparts. The entrance of Chief Justice John Roberts injected sudden grandeur and gravity. Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said: "When the chief justice walked in, you could feel the weight of the moment. I saw members on both sides of the aisle visibly gulp."Moreover, as senators prepare to weigh evidence that Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to investigate a political rival, a federal watchdog concluded that he broke the law when he froze military aid to the country last year. And Lev Parnas, a close associate of Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, tossed in another hand grenade with a TV interview that directly implicated the president in efforts to pressure Ukraine. "President Trump knew exactly what was going on," Parnas told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.For most viewers of that network, and millions of liberals across America, it was yet another nail in the coffin of a man who has long been beyond redemption and whose re-election is unthinkable.> I think there's an element of genuine incomprehension. He thinks he's the greatest president of all time> > Bill GalstonBut not the first time, there was a profound disconnection with Trumpworld, a place where the sun is always shining. Here, in meetings, ceremonies and rallies, the president basks in constant affirmation from fervent supporters and sycophantic staff. Such is the bubble of self-congratulation, it is perhaps not surprising Trump is baffled by the contempt and derision he glimpses outside it. He frequently asks bemusedly how a president with his record could be impeached.Galston said: "I think there's an element of genuine incomprehension. He thinks he's the greatest president of all time and his protestations of injured innocence I take seriously as a representation of his inner state." 'Clinton was more disciplined'On Wednesday, as dozens of reporters craned their necks beneath the crystal chandeliers of the ornate East Room, Trump stood with with Chinese vice-premier Liu He for the signing of the US-China phase one trade agreement. Before they put pen to paper, the president spent the best part of an hour giving shout-outs to his favourite officials and members of Congress. Senator Lindsey Graham, for example, was a "much better golfer than people would understand".Amid the applause, adulation and levity, it was hard to believe the existential threat of impeachment was unfolding up the road. That was just one more laugh line. "Kevin McCarthy, as you know, left for the hoax," Trump said of the Republican minority leader, prompting chuckles. Then he added darkly: "Well, we have to do that, otherwise it becomes a more serious hoax."On Thursday, the paradox continued. Senators passed Trump's United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement, or USMCA, with an 89-10 vote, then were sworn in as jurors for an impeachment trial certain to be far more divisive. Galston added: "To have the Senate vote with nearly 90 in favour of the trade deal and be split down the middle on impeachment on the same day is stunning."But Galston, a former deputy assistant to Bill Clinton for domestic policy, recalled that the last impeachment had its own dichotomies. "As Clinton careened towards a Senate trial in late 1998, Democrats won a big victory in the midterm elections and Newt Gingrich, the speaker of the House, felt compelled to resign. Talk about a split screen. I've seen this movie before."But President Clinton was more disciplined. When he had ceremonies at the White House he never talked about the other side of the screen. President Trump is obliterating the line." 'Not paying attention'In what would normally be a week of crisis, Trump was claiming other perceived victories. A caravan of about 2,000 Hondurans, reminiscent of those the president demonised in 2018, was on the move but looked unlikely to reach the US-Mexico border this time, in part because of new asylum agreements with Central American countries. The number of people crossing the border has fallen for seven months in a row.> A big bowl of cold oatmeal> > Van Jones on the Democratic debateTrump even seems to have got away with his biggest, most impulsive gamble in foreign policy, the assassination of Iran's top general, Qassem Suleimani, as the threat of all war apparently receded. "Trump Wins His Standoff with Iran", proclaimed a Washington Post headline above a column by Marc Thiessen, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former chief speechwriter for George W Bush.The president's final boost of the week may have come at the Democratic debate in Iowa where, in the eyes of some critics, no one claimed the mantle of Trump-slayer."I came away feeling worried for the Democratic party," political analyst Van Jones said on CNN, comparing it to "a big bowl of cold oatmeal" and warning: "There was nothing I saw tonight that would be able to take Donald Trump out, and I want to see a Democrat in the White House as soon as possible."Trump has, in fact, failed to keep many promises: making Mexico pay for a border wall; growing the economy at 4% a year; repealing and replacing Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act; passing a $1tn infrastructure bill. Even his China trade deal has been condemned as a surrender. None of that has stopped his campaign ads portraying him as a man of action and touting a list of achievements in contrast to "do nothing" Democrats obsessed with the arcane business of impeachment.Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution thinktank at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, said: "The trial does not feature Trump himself and could turn out to be intensely boring. A lot of viewers are not paying attention. It doesn't affect their lives. That's what I find when I travel."And the president, who has already raised millions of donor dollars off impeachment, will try to turn it to his political advantage. Whalen added: "Since he first started running for president, he realised he could get very far by making it an 'us versus them' mentality. In a swaggering way, he makes himself a victim. He's not suffering but he just makes you believe he's being persecuted."


18 Jan 2020 12:22pm GMT

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How to make homeless shelters safer

How to make homeless shelters saferThe author, who has lived in a New York homeless shelter since May, reflects on ways to make life safer for those it serves.


18 Jan 2020 12:00pm GMT

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Why Russia Doesn't Like (Or Have) Many Aircraft Carriers

Why Russia Doesn't Like (Or Have) Many Aircraft CarriersNot enough money?


18 Jan 2020 12:00pm GMT

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In Montreal, Egyptian Mummies, in 3-D, Have Secrets to Share

In Montreal, Egyptian Mummies, in 3-D, Have Secrets to ShareEgyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives is the new exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, done with the collaboration of the British Museum. We have a good macro-understanding of ancient Egypt through its architecture, art, economics, and culture from the early dynastic period (3100 b.c. to 2686 b.c.) to the Roman period (30 b.c. - the fall of Antony and Cleopatra - to a.d. 395). Elusive, though, are the particulars of everyday existence such as life span, health, diet, aging, and burial practices, including the process of mummification.Egyptian Mummies is the latest word on these subjects. It's a fascinating mix of art, science, and the lifestyles of six Egyptians whose mummies date from 900 b.c. to a.d. 180. Technology allows us to see inside the living body, saving countless lives. It also opens to us the doors of the dead. It appeals to the history-minded, the superstitious, the horror-obsessed, and the voyeuristic in all of us.Today, computerized tomography (CT) scanning makes it possible to see and interpret an immense, long-hidden trove of information, thanks in part to the British Museum's centuries-old ban on unwrapping its mummies. A policy respecting the dead left the mummies undisturbed, or no more disturbed than they already were, having been exhumed and hauled to cold, damp Britain. They don't exactly sing and dance, but science's capacity to render layered, 3-D images makes the mummies seem very human. They spill lots of beans on how they lived then. A funerary boat from 1985-1795 b.c., the first object in the show, tells us we're about to be transported. Tamut (in the feature photo at the top of the article) is my new best friend. From the inscriptions on her inner coffin, we know she started life as a high-ranking priest's daughter from Thebes - modern Luxor - living around 900 b.c., and she ended as "the Lady of the House," having married someone rich. Mummification practices evolved over centuries, but in those days, and scanning shows this, her brain was removed and her skull packed with textiles. Her organs were removed, embalmed, and bundled in bags placed in her chest cavity.By 900 b.c., Egypt's imperial days were gone, but it was just reaching the zenith of mortuary science. Then, to qualify for a happy afterlife, the body needed to look as hale and hearty as possible and kept as intact as possible. So the organs were salvaged, but the organ bundles and the textiles in the skull were arranged both to give Tamut a full-figured look and to disguise disfigurations that occurred during embalming. The goal wasn't so much to create a good likeness of the dead but to transform the once-living person into a servant of Osiris, the multitasking god whose portfolio included fertility, agriculture, life, the afterlife, and resurrection.Scanning shows the size and design of the jewelry adorning her body, including gold nails on her fingers and toes. Cleverly, the curators made 3-D models of her jewelry displayed in a case. Tamut was mummified with a large sheet-metal falcon ornament and a scarab over what was once her heart. It's engraved with a spell preventing the gods from discovering the misdeeds in her heart when judgment time comes. Incidentally, scans also show the arterial plaque that probably killed her. After centuries in her grave, Tamut traveled to London light. Her elaborately decorated inner coffin, made of a material like papier-mâché, is impressive. She probably had two outer coffins that disintegrated. The coffin that's left is gilded and painted with winged gods, beetles, falcons, panthers, and inscriptions. Her father was an "aq" priest, which meant he had access to the most sacred rooms at Karnak. She was, literally, "5'2″, eyes of blue," though the blue is the color of agate stones placed in her eye sockets. Hardly a flapper, she was buried in dignified luxury, and laid out anew in Montreal in fine form. The curators are good storytellers, which is what a good curator needs to be. The objects give us a documentary and aesthetic feel for Tamut and her world.Irthorru, Nestawedjat, a young temple singer, an unknown two-year-old child, and a young man from Roman Egypt round out the merry band. The Roman mummy, from about a.d. 150, sports at the head of his coffin a lifelike encaustic portrait of a beardless young man with dark, wavy hair and wide eyes in a white mantled tunic. He was in his late teens when he died. While Egyptian religious concepts of the afterlife didn't change much, death fashions did. With the portrait, his mummy shows the incursion of Roman realism in painted or sculpted portraiture. Whether an emperor or a lesser form of humanity, Romans didn't idealize. Roman portraits look like real people.I did wonder in walking through the show how the curators would indulge the Canadian reverence for diversity, equity, and inclusion. These mummies were all part of Egypt's 1 percent, after all. No affirmative action or identity politics was possible. At the end of the show, a wall panel entitled "Diversity" assured us that all was not lost. It's vague but seemed de rigueur. It notes that Greeks and Romans were abundant in Egypt and that painted shrouds depicting a single figure, probably the corpse, and realistic portraits at the head of the coffin showed "diverse" taste in art, though I'd call it simply the dissemination of new style, which is really part and parcel of the history of art. The young child's coffin has a gilded, molded plaster mask with stylized hair and a face that's not a portrait - it's almost a hundred years earlier that the Roman mummy of the young man - but takes a stab at looking sculpturally lifelike, with a 3-D face. He holds a bouquet of red molded plaster flowers. The archaeologist who discovered the mummy described him as "splendaciously got up." Nice touches include molded plaster feet with sandals on top of the foot-case and, under the foot-case, paintings of two men in chains. The image suggested the deceased had the power to tread enemies underfoot. Painted on the back of the plaster head is a scene of a nude child flanked by two gods pouring water on his head. The gods hold his hands, as if to assure him he has nothing to fear.There are good sections on dental health - teachable moments on where failure to floss will lead you - and diet. Irthorru ate well - he was a high priest with healthy bones and teeth with usual wear and tear. Our young Roman friend was probably fat, judging from his pelvis and knees, and ate too many sweets, judging from his prematurely rotted teeth. I surmise that by a.d. 150, the Roman Empire was going to the dogs, its young overfed, given to junk food, and definitely not doing their push-ups. Egyptian sculpture in the exhibition depicts scenes of family life. Ancient musical instruments give context to our temple singer.It's a material culture show, and I didn't expect the majesty of King Tut, the Rolls-Royce of gold-bedecked graves. It's an archaeology exhibition and gives people context and perspective. It drives home the not-so-clearly-understood fact that the world didn't begin the day the first Millennial graced the planet.On the installation, I thought the labels on the cases displaying the coffins were impossible to read. They were placed flat on the side of the cases, at wheelchair level. A beveled label would have been more readable. The entrance to the show was decidedly unceremonial, signaled only by a desk hawking audio tours, with no signage. The big gallery with the coffins was, I thought, too packed with objects. While the museum's newish modern building is sleek and attractive, the show is in the old building across the street, which is accessed only by a long trek underground, down stairs, up stairs, through winding corridors. By the time I reached Egyptian Mummies, I felt as if I'd traveled the length of the Nile. These are quibbles, though. The building is the architect's fault, not the curators'. The exhibition is wonderful.The Montreal Museum of Art does amazing shows. Over the past 20 years, the museum has shown daring, imagination, incisive scholarship, and flair. Its show on Walt Disney's debt to Old Master and 19th-century art was the best show I've seen, ever. I loved the Maurice Denis retrospective and shows on Dorothea Rockburne, Tom Wesselman, and Marc Chagall. Its 2017 show, Revolution, treated the late 1960s through painting, music, design, fashion, and film.I can't say Revolution was magnificent. With 700 objects, it was an excess of abundance that suited the time. It re-created and stylized a repulsive period, revolting in almost every permutation, to give the show's title a twist, but I still liked it. Montreal is very different, though it's as close to my home in Vermont as New York and Boston are. The show gave me a "not American" - dare I say "French" - view of the late 1960s, which added a perspective different from mine. The Montreal Museum consistently challenges the mind and never wanders beyond the realm of the aesthetic. It's an approach I'd suggest to American museums, many of which are too timid, boring, faddish, and preachy.


18 Jan 2020 11:30am GMT

17 Jan 2020

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Iowa caucus rules might allow for more than one 'winner'

Iowa caucus rules might allow for more than one 'winner'Polling has shown a relatively tight four-way race at the top, and a new method of reporting results could give multiple campaigns the ability to claim a win.


17 Jan 2020 7:40pm GMT

Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr join Trump impeachment defense team

Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr join Trump impeachment defense teamThe legal team representing President Trump in his Senate impeachment trial will include some familiar faces, especially for regular viewers of Fox News.


17 Jan 2020 4:24pm GMT

07 Nov 2011

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Rocking YUI on Node.js and Mobile

Just over a year and a half ago I broke onto the scene with some demos of running YUI on the server with Node.js. This started out as an exercise in just stressing YUI's modularity and its ability to be used in more places than just the browser. Back in April of 2010 I started [...]

07 Nov 2011 7:21pm GMT

25 Oct 2011

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YUIConf 2011 Update: Announcing More Talks and a Free Workshop!

We've been busy rounding out our stellar lineup of tech talks for YUIConf 2011! See the latest schedule and register now - early bird registration ends Tuesday, October 24. In conjunction with the Yahoo! Mail team, we're excited to announce the addition of a free workshop: Developing Apps for Yahoo! Mail. Get the hands-on expertise [...]

25 Oct 2011 4:44am GMT

18 Oct 2011

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YUI: Open Hours Thurs Oct 20th

Modules and Loaders inside and outside of YUI Authoring JavaScript in modules is definitely picking up steam these days, and I'm not just talking about YUI. Node.js uses CommonJS 1.1 modules, dojo and others use AMD, and the next version of JavaScript (ok, ECMAScript) will include new syntax for creating and working with modules. So [...]

18 Oct 2011 5:22am GMT