Reported and Written by WVUA 23 Reporter Cienna CorglianoA local school has been recognized and awarded for their efforts to keep their students safe.The Alabama Safe Schools Initiative Award honors schools that have outstanding safety plans. Attorney General Steve Marshall personally presented this award on April 15 to Eastwood Middle School.“We clearly don’t want to be that national story where we hear about tragedies that take place around the country where the individuals come to school to do violence,” Marshall said. “Part of the initiative here is to take what’s working well in Alabama and allow that to be replicated in a way where it works for local school systems.”After receiving 92 submissions, the attorney general’s office honors the private school winners across north, central, and southern Alabama as well as the eight state school board districts.“To be able to award them one of our awards of excellence,” Marshall said. “To be able to demonstrate that they’re not only doing school safety well, but they’re allowing other schools to be able to come here and learn from them. It’s a great opportunity for them to highlight good work being done in school safety in this area.”Marshall said many things distinguish Eastwood from others and explained how the judges decide which schools have the best safety plans.“There are multiple criteria that we look at whether it be the interaction with students and the involvement in students, the comprehensive nature of the plan, the effort to not only be able to incorporate law enforcement and non-profit work in a school setting,” Marshall said. “Eastwood was one of those that stood out among the applications and that’s why we’re here to award it today.”Eastwood Middle Principal Eric Hines said a large number of people and organizations help keep his school safe and that the school is very fortunate.
Many of us think rain is good thing, but recent downpours have created the ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.Mosquitoes aren’t just pesky nuisances; they also carry deadly diseases like the Zika virus and malaria.The World Health Organization says 216 million people were infected with malaria in 2016 alone – killing 445,000.“We are in this time of year, it’s only going to get worse and it did come on fast,” Tuscaloosa County Extension Agent Neal Hargle said.Hargle is talking about what southerners call “mosquito season.” Heavy rainstorms like the county has been experiencing lately create areas of standing, stagnant water, the ideal breeding ground for the buzzing, biting pests.“They do have to have that standing water,” Hargle said. “If they don’t have standing water, they can’t lay their eggs.”Common places for standing water are yards, and things left in them that collect water.“Sanitation is huge,” Hargle said. “If you have a child’s toy that’s outside or you have some kind of water container that’s outside that’s not supposed to be there holding water. Old tires are bad about holding water. Keep those things dumped out. Keep those things clean and tipped over where they can’t hold water.”Other than ridding those areas of the water, there are also all kinds of sprays, treatments and other products residents can use to alleviate the problem. Hargle said it is important to take action against the pests because they can multiply rapidly.“The biggest thing is have a routine, have a system in place,” he said. “We are going to have mosquitoes at least until September, October, maybe even into November. So they’ll be around a while. Let’s enjoy the outdoors. Take care of ourselves, our children and our pets.”
READ MORE:The Latest: Officer-Involved Shooting in Aliceville: July 19, 2019UPDATE: A man accused of getting into a shootout with police in Aliceville is now facing two capital murder charges.Fred Sommerville, 47, was arrested in Pickens County Friday after getting involved in a shootout with police. A body, now identified as 39-year-old LaKresha Sommerville, was found in the front seat of the stolen Volkswagen Jetta Fred Sommerville was driving.Fred Sommerville was arrested a day after Bruce Cosman, 74, was found dead in his backyard from a gunshot wound. Cosman lived on Highway 251 in Ardmore, Tennessee. His wife heard gunshots come from their backyard shortly after 7:30 p.m. on July 18, then walked out to find his body. Cosman had walked outside to check his backyard after hearing a suspicious noise.“We can put Fred Sommerville at our victim, Mr. Cosman’s residence at the time of the murder,” Limestone County Sheriff Mike Blakely said in an interview with WHNT 19. The Huntsville-based television station reported that Blakely “would not go into detail about what evidence deputies had connecting Sommerville to the crime.”Reports indicate that the Sommervilles were not in a happy relationship and that LaKresha Sommerville’s death was likely the result of a domestic dispute. He is still being held in Pickens County Jail on a myriad of charges: attempting to elude, first-degree theft of property, abuse of a corpse and reckless endangerment.“We got a lot more work that has to be done,” Blakely said in a press conference. “We will be spending hundreds of hours still interviewing people, talking to people and making sure we have our timeline down right. But we are very confident in this arrest.”Aliceville Police have identified the man arrested Friday after an officer-involved shooting near the intersection of Columbus Road and Third Avenue.The man was driving a vehicle with a dead body inside at the time of the shooting, State Bureau of Investigation agents said.He was identified as Fred Sommerville, and has been charged with abuse of a corpse, theft, reckless endangerment and attempting to elude.The corpse in the vehicle has not yet been identified.
LOS ANGELES — Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has agreed to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-breaking $2 billion. Now it’s up to others whether the deal goes through.Shelly Sterling said in a statement issued that she’d signed a binding contract for a sale of the Clippers by The Sterling Family Trust to Ballmer in what would be a record deal if approved by the NBA.Ballmer “will be a terrific owner,” Sterling said, “We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premier NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success.”Sterling negotiated the sale after her husband, Donald Sterling, made racist remarks that were made public. The remarks included Sterling telling girlfriend V. Stiviano not to bring blacks to Clippers games, specifically mentioning Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.Shelly Sterling’s statement noted that she made the deal “under her authority as the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers.”Donald Sterling’s attorneys contend that he is a co-owner and therefore must give his assent for the deal to go through. They also say he won’t be giving it.“Sterling is not selling the team,” said his attorney, Bobby Samini. “That’s his position. He’s not going to sell.”Ballmer beat out bids by Guggenheim Partners and a group including former NBA All-Star Grant Hill after presenting an “all-around superior bid,” according to an individual with knowledge of the negotiations.The individual, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said Ballmer made more than an hour-long personal visit to Shelly Sterling’s Malibu home and laid out his plan.“He knocked their socks off, they bonded, had a good connection,” the individual said. The amount was also the largest of the offers, and Ballmer was one potential buyer to deal with rather than numerous members of a group.Ballmer said in a statement that he is honored to have his name submitted to the NBA for approval and thanked the league for working collaboratively with him throughout the process.“I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win — and win big — in Los Angeles,” Ballmer said. “LA is one of the world’s great cities — a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness.”On May 29, Magic Johnson lauded the deal on his Twitter account: “Steve Ballmer owning the Clippers is a big win for the City of LA and all the people who live in the City of Angels!”Though Donald Sterling’s attorneys now say he won’t agree to sell the team, a May 22 letter obtained by The Associated Press and written by another of Sterling’s attorneys that says that “Donald T. Sterling authorizes Rochelle Sterling to negotiate with the National Basketball Association regarding all issues in connection with a sale of the Los Angeles Clippers team.” It includes the line “read and approved” and Donald Sterling’s signature.Samini said Sterling has had a change of heart primarily because of “the conduct of the NBA.” He said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to ban Sterling for life and fine him $2.5 million as well as to try to oust him as an owner was him acting as “judge, jury and executioner.”“They’re telling me he should stand back and let them take his team because his opinion on that particular day was not good, was not popular?” Samini said. “It doesn’t make sense. He’s going to fight.”It’s unclear how the agreement will affect a special hearing of NBA owners planned for June 3 in New York to consider the charge against Donald Sterling for damaging the league with his comments.A three-quarters vote of the 30 owners to support the charge would have resulted in the termination of both Sterlings’ ownership of the franchise. The deal is expected to be presented to the league before Tuesday, according to the individual.Silver has said his preference would be for the franchise to be sold rather than seized — and that means sold in its entirety, with neither Sterling retaining a stake. Though according to the deal’s terms Ballmer will own 100 percent of the team, Shelly Sterling may continue to be involved under conditions worked out privately with Ballmer, the individual said.Franchise sale prices have soared since the current collective bargaining agreement was ratified in 2011. The Milwaukee Bucks were just sold to New York investment firm executives Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens for about $550 million, an NBA record.Last year, Vivek Ranadive’s group acquired a 65 percent controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings at a total franchise valuation of more than $534 million.This is not Ballmer’s first foray into potential NBA ownership. Ballmer and investor Chris Hansen headed a group that agreed to a deal to buy the Kings from the Maloof family in January 2013 with the intention of moving the team to Seattle, where the SuperSonics played until 2008.But Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson lobbied the NBA for time to put together a bid to keep the team in California, and though the Ballmer-Hansen group later increased its offer, owners voted to deny the bid for relocation and the Kings were sold to Ranadive.The former Microsoft CEO helped Bill Gates transform the company from a startup with fewer than 40 employees and $12 million in annual revenue into the world’s most valuable business. The pair met in 1973 while living down the hall from each other in a Harvard dorm.During his tenure at Microsoft, Ballmer was known for his competitive drive and wild displays of emotion and hand-waving.At his farewell address to Microsoft employees, he high-fived and hugged audience members, pumped his fists in the air, and even shed tears as the popular 1987 song “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” played on the sound system. In a video of the event widely viewed on YouTube, he screams: “You work for the greatest company in the world!”___By Tami Abdollah. AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report.TweetPinShare0 Shares
Behind Nikos Pappas’ 23 points, Panathinaikos stayed perfect and held off an upset bid from Aris, 76-69, a day after Olympiakos throttled Panionios at Nea Smyrni in the Greek basketball league.Pappas stepped up in the absence of captain Dimitris Diamantidis to run the Greens to 9-0 in a league it has dominated for decades along with its archrival Olympiakos, which is 9-1 this year and got 18 points from American Bryant Dunston to beat last place Panionios, 73-56.AGO Rethymnou is alone in third after its Dec. 13 defeat of Kolossos Rhodes, 70-66 and is only two points behind Olympiakos. In other games in the league, Trikala surprised surging AEK 87-83 at home, while struggling Panelefsiniakos squeaked past Korivos, 74-73.PAOK played a solid game against Nea Kifissia and won 78-67 for its sixth win in eight matches and KAOD got by Apollon Patras, 82-76 in a bid to avoid relegation. TweetPinShare0 Shares
ATHENS – After two years as coach, Spaniard Michel Gonzalez has been fired by the Olympiakos soccer team after failing to advance in the Champions League.The perennial powerhouse has also been struggling in the weak Greek league, where it has dominated with Panathiniakos for decades with most other teams along for the ride and rarely challenging the duo.That led owner Vangelis Marinakis, who in the past had been caught up in scandals involving the league, to dump his coach.“Olympiakos is announcing the end of its cooperation with manager Michel Gonzalez. The entire family of Olympiakos thanks Michel for his contribution to the club and wishes him every success in his career,” read the Olympiakos statement.Media reports said the former Sevilla manager had lost control of the locker room and battled with Dutch player Ibrahim Afellay.Coupled with losses to Atromitos and PAOK and overall poor play led to Michel’s days being numbered before he was fired, and a close win over the lowly Platanias sealed his fate.Reports say the next Olympiakos coach will also be a foreigner.TweetPinShare0 Shares
PARIS (AP) — Eight worried-looking Marseille players stayed on the field after the 1-1 home draw with Monaco in the French league on Sunday.Several senior players were in the closed circle: attacking midfielder Dimitri Payet, forward Florian Thauvin, long-serving goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and Brazilian holding midfielder Luiz Gustavo.They seemed at a loss what to do, until finally Payet sprinted off. His mission? Persuading the rest of Marseille’s players to leave the comfort of the dressing room to go back out to face the angry fans.Eventually, as a reluctant group, the whole team walked slowly and with evident trepidation toward a large group of home fans massed behind one of the goals at a tension-filled and expletive-laced Stade Velodrome.Discussions between fans and players were heated and agitated, complete with aggressive hand gestures from the fans. Burly security officials kept a close watch but weren’t needed as the verbal sparring — intense as it was — did not escalate further.Moments later, under-pressure Marseille coach Rudi Garcia followed onto the field and cautiously made his way over.He joined in the vehement discussions only very briefly, and more as a show of faith, before walking away with Thauvin. They spoke to each other with hands cusped over mouths, foiling the lip-reading cameras zooming in on them.Soccer fans light fires during the League One soccer match between Marseille and Monaco at the Velodrome stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)Tense discussions continued inside the stadium corridors, as the veteran Mandanda — who counts more than 450 appearances for Marseille — spoke at length with unhappy representatives from Marseille fan groups. Gustavo looked on pensively nearby, neither overawed or inclined to speak. Yet his stunned silence was perhaps reflective of how helpless both the players and the fans feel.The atmosphere in Marseille was at its toxic worst on Sunday night – a far cry from May last year when tens of thousands of jubilant Marseille fans descended onto the French city of Lyon to follow their team in the Europa League final against Atletico Madrid.Atletico won, but the huge level of Marseille’s support that day was a reflection of the club’s immense standing in France and also its wider recognition in Europe.Marseille fans take their club very seriously and consider themselves to be the No. 1 club in France. After all, Marseille has won nine league titles — only Saint-Etienne has more with 10 — and remains the only French club to win the Champions League in 1993 when it beat Italian giant AC Milan. Marseille also reached the ’91 final — then known as the European Cup — losing on penalties to Red Star Belgrade.By comparison, Paris Saint-Germain has only reached one Champions League semifinal. That was in ’95, and long before cash-rich Qatari backers QSI took over the club and invested heavily in the kind of star players Marseille used to cherish.But this season things have taken a turn for the worse for Garcia’s Marseille, and fans are turning on the former Rome and Lille coach.Marseille’s coach Rudi Carcia gives instructions during the League One soccer match between Marseille and Monaco at the Velodrome stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)Marseille is out of the Europa League, both domestic Cup competitions and languishes in ninth place in Ligue 1 — with a third-place finish needed in the league to reach the Champions League playoff round and second place to qualify automatically.The humiliating Cup eliminations were particularly galling for fans, with Marseille picking up one point in six group games in the Europa League — even finishing below unheralded Cypriot team Limassol — and going out of the French Cup to a team in the fourth tier.The fans have had enough and want Garcia out. Not only that, they want the whole set up changed.During Sunday’s game, fans unfurled banners with some choice comments.“Players, Coach, Directors. All Guilty,” read one banner, while another struck an accusatory tone with “You are all an organized scam.”Another strongly-worded one read: “Humiliated in Europe, League Cup, French Cup. Directors, coach, players, you’re the shame of Marseille.”Marseille supporters display a banner reading “All guilty” after the bad results of their team during the League One soccer match against Monaco at the Velodrome stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)One banner even took a sarcastic swipe at club president Jacques-Henri Eyrault, mocking him for his use of PowerPoint presentations.“Do you need a PowerPoint to work hard?” it said, seemingly to parody the team’s apparent lack of work ethic.Only victories can stem the negative tide and Marseille desperately needs to go on a winning run to get fans back onside.Next up is a difficult trip to fourth-place Saint-Etienne on Wednesday.In a match opposing France’s two most proudly successful sides, defeat will only increase the pressure on Garcia.—By JEROME PUGMIRE , AP Sports WriterMarseille’s Florian Thauvin reacts during the League One soccer match against Monaco at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)Marseille’s coach Rudi Carcia gives instructions during the League One soccer match between Marseille and Monaco at the Velodrome stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)TweetPinShare0 Shares
FILE – In this June 20, 2018, file photo, Houston Astros’ Jose Altuve watches his solo home run off Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi during the sixth inning of a baseball game, in Houston. The Astros have plenty of reasons to be confident with a big chunk of last year’s squad which won a franchise-record 103 games. That group is led by a bevy of stars including Altuve, shortstop Carlos Correa, third baseman Alex Bregman, 2017 World Series MVP George Springer and starters Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, who combined for 31 wins and 566 strikeouts in 2018. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith, File)NEW LOOKThe Astros did lose a few key players this offseason. Their biggest losses were starters Charlie Morton, who made his first All-Star team last season, and 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel. Their departure will allow Collin McHugh to return to the rotation after pitching in relief for the first time in his career last season, and leaves an opportunity for a young player to snag the fifth spot in the rotation.Also gone is utility player Marwin Gonzalez. One of the longest tenured Astros, Gonzalez had been with the team since 2012 and was the team’s jack of all trades, appearing at every position except pitcher and catcher in his seven seasons in Houston. The Astros signed Aledmys Diaz to take over Gonzalez’s role, but manager A.J. Hinch said he’ll also ask first baseman Yuli Gurriel to move around the infield to help out.Houston’s two most important offseason acquisitions were adding left-handed starter Wade Miley and outfielder Michael Brantley. Miley will take Keuchel’s spot in the rotation and Brantley will provide at upgrade in left field. By: Kristie Rieken, AP Sports WriterHOUSTON (AP) — The Astros are not short on confidence heading to spring training, not after winning 103 games and with most of their roster intact from last year’s run to the AL Championship Series.“I love this team,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “And when we show up next week if this is the roster we have, we’ve got a really good chance of accomplishing our goals this year.”Houston has its stars in place, including 2017 AL MVP Jose Altuve, shortstop Carlos Correa, third baseman Alex Bregman, 2017 World Series MVP George Springer and starters Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, who combined for 31 wins and 566 strikeouts in 2018.“We have four position players that could be an MVP this year. We’ve got two pitchers that could be a Cy Young,” Luhnow said. “I think that is a pretty good starting point for a team. We’re going to have good pitchers on the mound every night. We’re going to have an offense that’s going to score a lot of runs. We play good defense. We run. We play good fundamentals. It’s a fun team to watch and they all get along with each other.”That doesn’t mean there aren’t some new faces around as pitchers and catchers get ready to report to spring training Feb. 13. ROOKIES TO WATCHThis veteran team won’t have a lot of rookies on its opening day roster, but a pair of young pitchers will be vying for the fifth spot in the rotation. Josh James and Framber Valdez both made their MLB debuts late last season, but will still be considered rookies this season because of their limited work last year. The left-handed Valdez was 4-1 with a 2.19 ERA in eight games with five starts last season. James performed so well after a September call-up that he made Houston’s playoff roster. The 25-year-old, whose fastball routinely hits 102 mph, could also be an option in the bullpen.THEY’RE SETWhile the Astros have plenty of strengths, their most stable area should be the middle infield with Altuve, Correa and Bregman all expected to be healthy after dealing with injuries late last season. Bregman was the MVP of last year’s All-Star game in his first trip to the event in a season where he set career highs with 31 homers and 103 RBIs and hit an AL-leading 51 doubles. The Astros expect Altuve and Correa to return to form after solid, but not stellar, 2018 seasons.THEY’RE NOTCatcher could be a shaky spot for the Astros after Houston didn’t re-sign veteran Brian McCann. Houston added Robinson Chirinos in the offseason and he should start, but Max Stassi, who started 88 games last season, will need to improve to solidify the position.ON DECKCompetition for the fifth spot in the rotation should be interesting and could go down to the wire. The Astros open the season with a four-game series at Tampa Bay starting on March 28TweetPinShare0 Shares
The days of Youri Djorkaeff, Jay-Jay Okocha and Fernando Hierro running out to play Premier League games for Bolton are a distant memory for long-suffering fans of the English soccer team.Now, the club is in a complete mess — and, in the worst-case scenario, could yet go out of business.On Wednesday, Bolton officials are due in the High Court in central London over an unpaid tax bill of 1.2 million pounds ($1.6 million) and other debts. Britain’s tax department says the club will go into bankruptcy protection if it doesn’t pay what it owes.The problems are many at Bolton, which is now languishing in next-to-last place in the second-tier League Championship and is likely to be relegated to the third division in the coming weeks.The club — one of the 12 founding members of England’s Football League in 1888 — is in a dire financial position, with its players currently on a 48-hour strike in support of staff whose wages were not paid on time for the second straight month. It is the second time in less than a year that players have taken such action.In addition, the team will have to play its next two matches behind closed doors after Bolton’s safety advisory group decided Tuesday that the club could not guarantee the safety of fans at the stadium. The group, which comprises representatives of the local council, police and emergency services, informed the Football League that it has placed a prohibition notice on the club.With Bolton desperate for wins in an effort to escape relegation, having no supporters for the games against Ipswich on Saturday and Middlesbrough on April 9 is a big blow. The team is five points from safety with seven games left this season.Through all of this, Bolton chairman Ken Anderson, a former agent who bought the club in 2016, says he is hitting obstacles in his efforts to sell it — infuriating fans in the process.The latest in a series of bullish updates from Anderson was published Tuesday, in which he said “talks are ongoing with buyers” whose “advisors (say) that they are in a position that will enable completion to take place shortly.”Anderson urged the team’s players to go back to work, saying their decision “has a negative rather than a positive logic behind it.”“I have read that the players and management staff have said that being paid late does not actually motivate them to go out and perform on the pitch,” Anderson said, adding pointedly: “That is fully understandable, but perhaps they could also explain why the results up to Christmas were not exactly impressive either?”And in remarks that likely didn’t go down well with club staff yet to be paid their salary, Anderson said: “Let’s remember, yesterday was only April 1, so it is not as if it is weeks late, is it?”These latest events contrast sharply to the Bolton of 15-20 years ago when the club was well run and constantly punched above its weight before its relegation in 2012, which ended 11 straight years in the top flight.Bolton reached the last 16 of the now-defunct UEFA Cup in 2008. At the end of the stewardship of Sam Allardyce (1999-2007), the team finished in the top eight of the Premier League every year from 2004-07 and was a beaten finalist in the English League Cup in 2004.There were two glorious years — from 2002-04 — when Bolton’s attack was led by Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner with France in 1998, and Okocha, a Nigerian whose flair and skills made him one of the most watchable players in the world’s most watched league.Now, many soccer fans only hear of Bolton in relation to a crisis that is damaging the reputation of one of the English game’s most famous names.By: Steve Douglas, AP Sports WriterTweetPinShare0 Shares
Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.
Keven Walgamott, a real estate agent who lost his left hand and part of his arm in an electrical accident in 2002, got emotional when he was able to clasp his hands together and “feel” the space between his thumb and his index finger using a 3D-printed prosthetic hand in 2016.”That was the first time I ever felt anything in my left hand since my amputation,” Walgamott says. He got emotional a second time when he was able to grasp his wife’s hand and “feel” her touch, this time through a newly designed, experimental prosthetic hand that can be directed with the user’s mind.Walgamott was the sole volunteer for a 14-month study conducted by a multidisciplinary team based at the University of Utah, and also included collaborators from the University of Chicago and the Cleveland Clinic. The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Science Robotics.The research team adapted a commercially developed prosthetic named the “LUKE arm” — after the robotic hand the character Luke Skywalker got in the Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back.The original LUKE arm had been designed to perform a variety of movements, but the Utah collaboration significantly improved it by figuring out how to mimic the way the human brain sends a signal to the hand to touch an object, and how the hand sends a signal back in response to touching it.”The nerves that communicate and control the hand and the nerves that send information back up to the brain still exist even after the hand has been amputated,” explains Jacob George, a doctoral student of biomedical engineering at the University of Utah and one of the lead authors of the study.The research team implanted electrodes in some of those nerves in Walgamott’s forearm and then recorded the signals that occurred when he thought of moving his hand to grab or touch an object. The prosthetic hand moved as commanded by Walgamott’s brain.Better feedback between prosthetic and brain”The whole ‘using feedback for prosthetics’ idea has been floating around for a while and people just haven’t shown whether or not it works,” says Sharlene Flesher, postdoctoral research associate at Stanford University, who also studies tactile feedback in prosthetic robotic limbs, but was not involved in this study. “The fact that they got everything to work is not a trivial result.”Other existing prosthetics can also convert brain signals into movement. But doing daily life tasks depends not only on our ability to grab objects but also on our ability to sense through touch what those objects are without looking at them.For instance, if you try holding an egg in your hand while blindfolded, you’ll likely know right away that you have to handle it carefully to avoid breaking it. This is because the nerves in your hand send signals to your brain that tell you — based on past experience and characteristics such as shape, texture and heft — that you’re holding an egg. But with most prosthetic hands you’d need visual clues to tell you how strongly you could grip the object to avoid dropping it or crushing it.The University of Utah researchers and their colleagues were able to restore Walgamott’s ability to “feel” what he was touching by providing stimuli through electrodes implanted in his arm; the information was quickly transmitted back up to the brain as if it were coming directly from the hand.By recovering some of his sense of touch in this way, Walgamott was able to precisely distinguish between large and small and soft and hard objects after roughly 10 seconds of handling them — even when his eyes or ears were covered.”We’re tapping into the same [mechanism] that’s used in my body and your body and everyone’s body, and we’re trying to just activate it in the way it would have normally been activated. So the sensations feel like they’re coming from their hand,” says George.Walgamott says the sensations he experienced with the robotic hand didn’t feel exactly the same as those from his other hand, but he still found the ability to touch, feel and manipulate fragile objects like grapes and eggs astounding.”Being able to pick up an egg without crushing it was a remarkable experience,” he says, and the skill translated to challenges he faces in daily life. Using the prosthetic in the lab, he was able to feed himself and load a pillow into a pillow case, and put on his wedding ring.”This study kind of pushes the importance of why we should have sensorized prosthetics,” says Flesher. Beyond all the remaining technical challenges, she says, getting insurance companies to recognize the importance of such devices will be a key hurdle to overcome.Insurance companies “think of it as a luxury,” Flesher says. “But [a sense of touch] really is so critical to how you control your arm.”Prosthetic hands that can restore one’s sense of touch are currently not available outside the lab — Walgamott participated in the study for 14 months, wearing the prosthetic device for only a few hours per session during that time, and only in the lab. It connected to his arm via surgically implanted wires that were removed when the 14-month-long study was completed.Using the device required a researcher’s direct supervision. For the LUKE Arm to be routinely usable at home, researchers would like to come up with a device that can be implanted inside the body, like a pacemaker. Though Utah companies are working on a wireless version of the device, it has only been tested in animals so far.George and his collaborators hope next to get approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin testing their modified LUKE arm in larger groups of people, and in the participants’ own homes instead of the lab. They are now testing a prosthetic arm whose electronic controls can be strapped to the waist, which would make it easier for patients to use without supervision.’Phantom pain’ temporarily easedWalgamott’s burning phantom pain — a pain coming from the hand that is no longer there – also was reduced while his prosthetic hand was turned on.”[We are] recreating that sense of touch that they would normally be getting,” George explains. “When we start to do that, we think that we’re recreating the sense associated with that hand, [which] can kind of get rid of the pain.”Unfortunately, Walgamott says that the pain was reduced for only about an hour after taking the prosthetic off, and then the pain returned with the same intensity as before. He continues to feel that pain today.”Getting rid of phantom pain is one of the hopes,” a member of the research team told Walgamott during the experimental trial, according to a study transcript. “It’s not a promise. But if we restore sensory and motor function, then the prosthetic hand will become your hand, and the phantom will not have a place anymore.” Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
The children’s lawyer was incensed. Her two tiny clients — one of them blind — had been in a shelter for three months, separated from their mother.The family had traveled from Mexico to the United States, reaching Nogales, Arizona, on March 1, 2018. Officials at the border found that the mother, Nadia Pulido, had “credible” reasons for seeking asylum from an ex-partner who, she says, beat her and stalked her after their relationship ended.But U.S. Customs and Border Protection still sent Pulido into an adult detention center run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She had an hour to say goodbye and try to assure her blind daughter, 6, and sobbing 3-year-old son that she’d see them in a couple of hours.”A couple of hours turned into months. Painful months,” Pulido recalled in an interview.To help the children, pro bono attorney Maite Garcia turned to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. She filed a complaint with the office on June 7 of last year, explaining that Pulido’s daughter was “completely blind and requires assistance for daily living” and would be better off with her stepfather, a U.S. citizen.Nearly two weeks went by before the civil rights office replied.”The issues you raise are very important to us,” CRCL finally said in its emailed response. Then came a disclaimer: “Please be advised that our complaint process does not provide individuals with legal rights or remedies. … Instead, we use complaints like yours to find and address problems in DHS policy and its implementation.”That was the last Garcia heard from the nearly 100-person office in Washington, D.C.The tepid response from the department’s civil rights office bolsters objections — not least from former staff — that the DHS watchdog is failing to stop rights abuses as they’re happening inside a detention system that’s expanding rapidly under the Trump administration.The ineffectual handling of individual complaints adds to criticism that DHS leaders no longer heed recommendations from the agency’s own civil rights experts.”Put yourself in the shoes of the person who’s sitting in the cell or who’s separated from their parent or who’s wondering where their child is,” former CRCL staff attorney and adviser Ellen Gallagher said.A recent whistleblower, Gallagher has accused the civil rights office of failing to investigate multiple individual complaints alleging unjustified solitary confinement of detainees in ICE custody. Gallagher is now with DHS’ Office of Inspector General, a separate internal watchdog specializing in issuing reports after lengthy investigations.”It seems to mislead the public, to invite complaints involving specific information about the individual or the family and the alleged violation, if Civil Rights and Civil Liberties had no intention of specifically investigating or resolving those individual complaints,” Gallagher said.Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan has insisted that DHS has “layers of oversight” to correct abuses. “We have good supervisory oversight, and we hold people accountable,” he said during a July 9 interview on CNN in response to questions about filthy conditions in CBP holding facilities.Gallagher’s impression, however, is that the civil rights office “was actually fairly intimidated by ICE and CBP and did not want to engage in activity that might offend either. That is an odd and even disturbing posture for an oversight authority.”Internal CRCL log: a flood of complaints Some CRCL staff members say that individual employees contact CBP or ICE to try to informally resolve civil rights complaints. But they can only advise agencies, they say, because their office isn’t set up to halt abuses as they happen.Cameron Quinn, chief of the civil rights office and an appointee of President Trump, declined a request for an interview. Another CRCL official responded in writing to questions, asking not to be quoted by name.”CRCL does not have authority to remedy individual complaints but instead focuses on systemic issues” at DHS, the official wrote. The office does have authority, however, to seek “remedies” for people facing disability discrimination, the official said, declining to elaborate.”With regard to family separations,” the official said, “CRCL investigated the issue from a policy and process standpoint.” The civil rights office then sent its recommendations to ICE and Customs and Border Protection in a memo. CRCL declined to release the memo, calling it a “deliberative” document.CRCL, the official added, still has “open investigations” into the separations of children under age 5, the separations of children with disabilities and standards for separating families based on parental criminal history.The Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties was created along with the Department of Homeland Security in 2002. The office’s mission is to advise the powerful federal department and prevent civil rights violations such as the post-Sept. 11 roundups of Muslims without due process. But some insiders say CRCL has always lacked teeth.Last year, the civil rights office proved especially weak as complaints about due process concerns and family separations began pouring in — nearly 850 in the first half of 2018 alone, logged into a CRCL database. An independent journalist obtained a copy through a Freedom of Information Act request and then shared it with the Center for Public Integrity and NPR.The complaints referenced more than 380 separated children 10 years old or younger, of which more than 120 children were age 5 or younger.More than 140 complaints arrived before the Trump administration announced its “zero tolerance” policy on April 6, 2018. More than 160 cases of separation referenced in the log were carried out before that date. The zero-tolerance policy required separating families so that CBP could hold all adults for prosecution, even for a first-time misdemeanor illegal entry.Former and current staff in the civil rights office say their colleagues were so upset by allegations in the complaints that they openly wept at desks as they reviewed the cases.By May of last year, senior staff in the office had urged Quinn, in an internal memo, to challenge the separations. “CRCL should express great concern over our exclusion from these critical decisions,” which CRCL has the authority to review, the memo said. “Deliberately harming children to deter parental behavior would require an exceedingly strong justification to pass muster as a reasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment, among other concerns.”Lawyer and former CRCL senior adviser Scott Shuchart, who resigned from the office last year, said his and other advisers’ concerns were “blown off” by CBP and other DHS leadership in meetings.One complaint to CRCL in January 2018 reported that CBP separated a 4-month-old infant from a Mexican father who had prior immigration violations but feared being sent back to Mexico.Another reported that an 8-year-old said CBP officers “kicked him and/or hit him with a shoe” to wake him. Dozens of other complaints described children upset about their parents’ uncertain whereabouts and abrupt disappearance — including a 14-year-old in CBP custody who said he was separated after a meal break and was then “told by officers that his father would be deported.”About 95% of all complaints logged came from the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement, a unit within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that’s responsible for migrant-children shelters.Former senior staff in this federal resettlement office say the volume of complaints is unprecedented. Robert Carey, ORR director during the final two years of Barack Obama’s presidency, said he thinks ORR employees were trying to stop separations by filing complaints.”You probably have a deeply traumatized, possibly hysterical child that you’re trying to care for,” Carey said. “I’m guessing some of those cases would require … the intervention of a therapist, particularly if you’re talking about, in some instances, young children.”HHS officials declined to make leaders in its Office of Refugee Resettlement available for an interview.Most other complaints came from nonprofit legal aid groups — including 18 filed by the Phoenix-based Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, where Maite Garcia works.The complaint about Pulido’s blind daughter and toddler son appears on page 276 of CRCL’s 366-page document.Another Florence complaint filed on June 14 of last year appears on page 321. It raises objections to CBP’s separation of a Guatemalan mother from her 17-year-old son — who is unable to hear or speak — without regard for his disability. The boy could have qualified to be “paroled” into the U.S., a conditional form of humanitarian release. But that never happened — and the case shows how a formal complaint can wither in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.Deaf boy’s mom taken awayThe story of the mother and her deaf son “exhibits the cruelty, the chaos” of how migrants are treated, said Elizabeth Jordan, an attorney with Denver’s Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center. She represented the mother while the woman was in ICE lockup in Colorado.On April 25 of last year, the mother and her 17-year-old deaf son approached CBP officers after crossing the Arizona border and asked to apply for asylum.The boy and his mother now live in Florida, where they are in the process of applying for asylum. In an interview, the mother, who asked that her name not be disclosed, said she’d worked previously in the state, sending money to Guatemala to rent a room for her son and pay his tuition at a school for the deaf there. She eventually returned to Guatemala to care for her son and her own frail mother.Three months after she got there, her mother died, and her deaf son lost his primary caregiver. He’d long been bullied in Guatemala, and thieves had robbed him at gunpoint. Mother and son both set out for the United States some months later.”I don’t do this for me. I do it for him,” she said, “because I’m not going to be alive for all of his life.”After Customs and Border Protection took her and her son into custody near San Luis, Ariz., the mother said, officers ignored her pleas to keep them together rather than place them in cages segregated by age and gender. Her son, she told the officers, needed her to interpret. When she protested further that her son was mute, she said an officer answered, “He won’t need to do much talking where he’s going.”At some point, while her son was asleep, guards took her out of her cage, the mother said, and transported her to an ICE detention center pending prosecution. She said she was told “you have to pay for what you did” because she’d been turned away at the border the year before. She was sentenced to 30 days in an Arizona jail for reentry and then transferred to an ICE detention center in Colorado, pending deportation.Meanwhile, U.S. Customs and Border Protection had sent her son on a long bus ride to an Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter in Arizona, where his only means of communication was drawing pictures.For more than a month, the mother pleaded in vain with detention guards, first in Arizona and then in Colorado, to arrange a video call so she could at least see and sign with her son. Medical records from the boy’s time in the shelter indicate he was distraught: He struck his head against walls and cut himself with a paper clip. In an interview in Florida, interpreted by his mother, he said that to prevent him from getting out of bed one night, he was physically restrained.”She was profoundly distressed and so worried about him,” lawyer Jordan said of the mother. “This is a person who has devoted her life to keeping him safe and getting the best she can for him. And then, for her to be totally unable to check in on him for weeks …”A round of emails between the boy’s attorneys and DHS’ civil rights office ultimately went nowhere.Initially, a CRCL adviser seemed to be working on the Florence project’s June 2018 complaint, arguing that the deaf boy merited humanitarian parole and that for two months the shelter hadn’t “provided him with the appropriate accommodations” for his disability. The adviser wrote that the civil rights office was “reviewing your concerns”; he asked for proof the boy was deaf.In July 2018, one of the boy’s lawyers emailed CRCL to write that when CBP held the boy in custody, he “was able to understand that the agents were mocking him” because they didn’t believe he was deaf.The lawyer further argued that CBP, ICE and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the federal agency in charge of shelters, were all in violation of disability rights because they had failed to arrange a video call between the boy and his mother.The official from the civil rights office then replied that he was “unable to look into [the boy’s] ongoing concerns” because the teenager had been transferred by CPB, which is within DHS’ jurisdiction, to ORR, which is not.Instead, he suggested, the civil rights office could investigate the mother’s concerns because she was in ICE custody, which, like CBP and CRCL, falls under DHS. The boy’s attorneys gave the civil rights official contact information for Jordan, the mother’s Colorado lawyer.By that time, Jordan had already been emailing local ICE officials repeated pleas to set up a video call. The call finally happened — nearly three months after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers had separated the mother and her son. But it wasn’t because of action by DHS’ civil rights office, Jordan said. It was because DHS was by then under court order to put separated migrant family members in touch with one another by phone and then reunite them.”In my interactions with individual CRCL officers,” Jordan said, “I don’t get the sense that they’re out to lunch or bad people. I think that they just ultimately can’t get much done. I think it comes from being really hamstrung by the fact that they have to work with ICE and get ICE to concur in their recommendations and actually make changes.”In the children’s interestAlthough Trump ended his zero-tolerance policy in June 2018 after a public outcry, U.S. border agents have continued to separate families due to parents’ criminal records, even for minor offenses, or because of prior deportations.Immigrant rights groups have long pressed DHS to consider the children’s interests, and they’ve noted that family separation “causes great harm, disrupting emotional and psychological well-being.”For failed asylum-seeker Nadia Pulido, the groups’ pressure came too late.Pulido was born in Mexico but is a fluent English-speaker who arrived in California as an undocumented child and was raised by relatives. She could have qualified for a special visa for abandoned children, but no one sought such a visa on her behalf. When she was “literally just young, stupid and hanging around the wrong crowd,” she said, she was convicted of robbery and deported.Because of that history, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and ICE chose to send her children to a shelter and keep her in detention last year while her asylum case went forward.ICE could have released her on humanitarian parole. Instead, she was held in detention for eight months, until she lost her asylum bid. She could have appealed, but that would have meant more detention — and more time apart from her young children. In the end, Pulido agreed to be deported to Mexico.After four months in a shelter, Pulido’s blind daughter and toddler son were finally released to her husband, a U.S. citizen. Attorneys for the children and Pulido believe a federal lawsuit that led to a court order unifying migrant families was likely a factor. And they doubt their complaint to DHS’ civil rights office did anything to hasten the children’s release.In Mexico, where the kids have now joined her, Pulido said she’s still scared. To support her need for refuge, she presented Mexican police reports about incidents involving her ex-partner; and in her asylum application, she wrote that he assaulted her while she was pregnant and held a gun to her head.”We were leaving Mexico to seek help in the United States,” she said, “to stay free of danger.”Susan Ferriss is a reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative newsroom in Washington, D.C. Alison Kodjak reported this story for NPR, and independent journalist Joshua Phillips did so for the Center for Public Integrity. Journalists Madeline Buiano and Pratheek Rebala also contributed to this story. Copyright 2019 The Center for Public Integrity. To see more, visit The Center for Public Integrity.
Part 2 of the TED Radio Hour episode How To Be Better.About Sabine Doebel’s TED TalkEver wish your brain just … worked better? Developmental cognitive scientist Sabine Doebel explains what we can do to improve our executive function to break bad habits and create better ones.About Sabine DoebelSabine Doebel is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at George Mason University, where she directs the Developing Minds Lab.Doebel conducts research with children in an effort to understand the nature of the mind. Her work focuses on how children develop cognitive abilities like controlling impulses, thinking ahead, and staying on task. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
As an ingredient, sesame is pretty popular— it’s in tahini and sushi; it’s often mixed in granola, sprinkled on bagels or used as a flavoring in an array of dishes. But according to new research, this may be a problem for a substantial number of Americans. While previous studies suggested sesame allergies affected about .2% of U.S. children and adults, new research published this week in JAMA Open estimates the number of sesame-allergic Americans could be as high as .49% — around 1.6 million people. The study’s findings come at a time when the FDA is considering adding sesame to its list of top allergens that must be noted on food packaging. Last October, then-commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a request for information on the “prevalence and severity” of sesame allergies in the U.S. to aid in its decision.Luckily, a team of researchers led by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, director of the Science and Outcomes of Allergy and Asthma Research Team at Northwestern Medicine, already had data on hand — information from a national survey of food allergies they conducted between Oct. 1, 2015, and Sept. 31, 2016. For this study, researchers distributed surveys on food allergy diagnoses and symptoms to nearly 80,000 different people in over 50,000 households. To meet Gottlieb’s request, all they had to do was pull out their sesame data and give it a look. What they found: Of the nearly 80,000 people surveyed, about .49% reported having an allergy to sesame, an increase from previous estimates. Of these .49%, about two-thirds (.34% of the U.S. population) either received a diagnosis from a doctor or had allergic reactions that the researchers deemed convincing. Still, the overall findings suggest that sesame allergy is more widespread than previously thought. The researchers say they are confident that over a million people in the U.S. have sesame allergies, based on their data. Additionally, notes Gupta’s coauthor, epidemiologist Christopher Warren, about 1 in 3 people with convincing sesame allergies alone reported going to emergency rooms — a relatively higher proportion than previously thought. And people with sesame allergies were relatively unlikely to be diagnosed with them, compared with people who have other food allergies.”It can be trickier to avoid sesame than other major allergens,” he says, because it’s often sprinkled on foods, added to dressings or added into condiments in small quantities. It’s also not always labeled clearly. Onyinye Iweala, assistant professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina division of rheumatology, allergy and immunology and a member of the UNC Food Allergy Initiative, calls the study “really important.” She notes that its large sample size sets it apart from many previous food allergy studies, and increases her confidence in the findings. “They were … stringent in their definitions of food allergy,” she says, though these definitions coexisted alongside the classic limitations of survey-based studies — the findings are dependent on people self-reporting their food allergies, and this may lead to under or over-reporting. However, she says the authors properly addressed their study’s own limitations, and the overall finding is strong. The researchers’ paper comes at a time when food allergies in general are on the rise in kids in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 1999 and 2011, the prevalence of food allergies increased from 3.4% to 5.1%.Even relative to this rise, however, Iweala says her peers in the food allergy world have been seeing a fair amount of sesame allergy among kids. (She personally has not seen an increase in her clinic, which cares primarily for adults). She says policymakers “should take note of these findings, since they put the prevalence of sesame allergy on par with the prevalence of some tree-nut allergies, like cashew or pistachio.” However, she notes that regulators will have to weigh other factors, like logistics and costs of implementing new food allergy regulations.Currently, the U.S. FDA requires food manufacturers to list the top eight most common food allergens on packaging: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. The new findings on sesame allergy indicate its prevalence may rival that of previous estimates for some of these top 8 allergens, including tree nuts.Thomas Casale, chief medical adviser for operations at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), a nonprofit organization focusing on food allergy research, and a professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa, agrees the study is important and says policymakers should take note. Sesame, he says, “absolutely should become the 9th” allergy listed on food packaging, given these findings. Sesame’s absence from packaging could be contributing to a higher-than-usual level of dangerous allergic reactions reported by the study: “If you don’t have any appropriate labeling, it makes it a lot more difficult for people to screen what they’re eating.”On July 26, Illinois passed a law mandating sesame labeling on its food packaging. But because most packaged food crosses state borders, the impact of this law is yet to be seen, Gupta notes — it could flop, or Illinois will push major food manufacturers towards what it sees as the right direction. “It’s going to be challenging,” Gupta says. “But hopefully it’s the first step for it to become a national law.” Susie Neilson is an intern on NPR’s Science Desk. Follow her on Twitter here: @susieneilson. Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.
But CMMI had become commercialized, with an explosion of consultants and products. “The moment that happened, the initial purpose was lost. The guys on the panel asked us, ‘How will you cope with it when this happens to the agile community?’ ” Schwaber continued. That moment has arrived, bringing with it methodologists, consultants and vendors. But not without protest.Scrum.org, Schwaber maintained, has “worked very hard not to come up with a methodology. I have a Scrum methodology that I developed in 2003. It’s very prescriptive: Do this and you’ll be agile. But I put it away. Someone said all these fads run about 10 years, it’s time for the next thing. But Scrum is based on values, like we stated in the Agile Manifesto. If the values take hold, we succeeded.”#!From revolution to evolutionThere’s no question the values have captured the imagination of innovators, entrepreneurs and financiers. Scrum calls teams to be iterative and incremental, to eliminate waste, listen to bottom-up intelligence, inspect and adapt, make people count, and use value-stream mapping.“The Agile Manifesto applies to all industries. When we read it and its 12 principles, and switch each mention of ‘software’ with ‘customer-visible value,’ we have an elegant methodology that applies to all business,” said Joe Justice, whose day job is being a Scrum consultant for Jeff Sutherland’s Boston-based firm, Scrum Inc.Justice spends nights and weekends running Wikispeed, an automotive-prototyping company whose volunteers aim to design and build the world’s first 100 miles-per-gallon commuter cars. The project dovetails nicely with his Scrum consulting, with customers such as John Deere coming into the Seattle Wikispeed workshop to build a car for two hours, then asking Justice to fly to India to help its engineers learn Scrum techniques. Success comes with its own set of demands. Whether Ken Schwaber likes it or not, 2013 is the year of the “agile market,” and Scrum has reached the boardroom. The software development process Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland first presented at OOPSLA’95 is now the predominant technique used by agile software engineering teams. It faces new growing pains, however, as entire organizations try to adopt it, and new continuous delivery models bring complementary techniques (such as Kanban) to the fore.Capitalizing on this momentum, Boulder, Colo.-based agile tool vendor Rally Software made an initial public offering in April 2013, and companies such as Atlassian and CollabNet could be next in line to IPO. Ever the “robe-and-sandals Agilista,” to use Microsoft principal program manager Aaron Bjork’s label, Schwaber shakes his head at all this.(Scaling agile, according to Bjork: Getting agile to scale up)“I was at a [Department of Defense] conference back in 2002. The CMMI people and a couple of us from the agile community were on a panel. At that time, CMMI was big, with lots of expense and consultants who would come in and make you Level 2, Level 3, etc. Bill Curtis and Mark Paul said, ‘We don’t think we have any difference in goals from people in the agile community. We all intend to improve the profession of software development,’ ” said Schwaber.
This article will crystallize the thoughts and opinions of leading experts into a best-practices guide to defect tracking and remediation.BEST PRACTICE #1: DEFECT TRACKING IS NOT A STANDALONE TASK“It’s really hard to talk about just defect tracking in isolation from the whole rest of your entire project setup,” Nolen said. “It’s a very holistic activity, because anytime you choose to fix a bug, you’re essentially choosing not to do something else. So you always have to balance fixing that bug versus the other thing you would like to be doing. Tying that decision-making process into your entire development team and process is very important.”Defect tracking must be part of the overall development and planning process, according to AccuRev vice president of product management Brad Hart. “If you say you’re doing agile development and you’re planning your next sprint, there’s going to be stories that you accept into the sprint and you’re going to use your agile planning tool to manage that, but you should also be planning the defects that you’re going to accept. It can’t be as one-offs or on the side,” he said.Assigning roles is a good way to keep moving forward on a project while also making sure the software’s defects are being corrected, the experts said. Finding and fixing defects in software is as old as the practice of development itself. And, like development, defect tracking is done many different ways by different organizations, depending upon the size and distribution of the team, business priorities, and even the development process used.Many organizations will use an algorithm to help decide what defects get fixed, and when. It can range from “Don’t ever ship software with bugs” to a ranking system, and it will include such calculations as the number of people impacted by the defect, how likely the defect is to come up, how much it costs when it does arise, and how much support the defect is generating.Methodologies such as agile development and continuous integration and deployment also have changed the game, but in ways that may seem counterintuitive. One might think going faster creates more defects and leaves less time to find and remediate them, but just the opposite is true. Agile development means focusing on smaller pieces of the project, so the amount of change is much smaller, and, according to Jonathan Nolen, a senior development manager at software tool provider Atlassian, “the chances for you to create unintended consequences are less.”In today’s world, “the acceptable level of quality you’d release has to be higher,” said Alex Perec, senior product manager at TechExcel, which makes development tools. “You want to address issues as quickly as possible.”
For businesses relying heavily on holiday sales, like personalized gift retailer Things Remembered, load testing desktop and mobile website functionality becomes the most important step in preparation.“The growth of tablets has shaken the computing industry to its core,” said Things Remembered senior vice president and CIO Mark Lilien. On Oct. 17, he talked in a Compuware-sponsored webinar about his company’s approach to load testing for this holiday season.(An example of a flawed rollout) “We actually have a code freeze before we start load testing,” Lilien said. “We allow developers to change content, but we stop changing features and fixing defects.” The mobile shopping boomCompuware predicted in its DevOps Survival Guide for the 2013 shopping season that more than 50% of online customers will shop using mobile devices, so it’s essential for developers to extend testing to smartphones and tablets to make sure their apps and content are optimized. This Nov. 29 will usher in a Black Friday the likes of which we’ve probably never seen before. The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah begins on Thanksgiving Day this year (a day people have now taken to calling Thanksgivukkah), converging with peak Christmas shopping on that fateful Friday in a perfect storm of holiday e-commerce.Considering this potentially unprecedented online shopper load, now is a good time to reexamine your application performance management (APM) strategy.“People need to get ready for the holiday season,” said Andreas Grabner, technology strategist at Compuware APM. “They need to invest early on in testing. More and more people are shopping online, and especially on tablets and smartphones.”
And yet, both of these worlds essentially run the same type of software to accomplish the same types of tasks, right? It’s like the episode of “Seinfeld” where Elaine discovers a whole other group of friends that mirrored Jerry and the gang: Bizarro Jerry. Bizarro development team has a coffee shop, too! But do these two parallel gathering places have the same menu? Can they both make a Big Salad?Despite the fact that both of these virtual coffee shops perform the same basic functions, they’re not exactly the same. And even more importantly, it’s quite difficult to gather everyone up into a single virtual coffee shop. Just as you can’t replace a developer with a sys admin, you can’t replace Superman with Bizarro Superman, nor Kramer with Bizarro Kramer. So, too, can you not replace Perforce with ServiceNow, and vice versa. We’re all much more comfortable in their own universes.In fact, best practices would advocate that teams build bridges between existing systems, rather than provide one collaborative platform to share.Kurt Bittner, principal analyst for application development and delivery at Forrester Research, said that “It’s becoming more common to see these tools tied together. You can’t manage the life cycle without a common way to view the work. There isn’t one tool to rule them all, but this heterogeneous tool environment is being spanned by tools like Tasktop, CollabNet and the like.” DevOps is about two big worlds coming together, yadda yadda yadda. Now you’re deploying new code every day, right? Not quite. Just as in Seinfeld, when George’s girlfriend “yadda yadda’d” shoplifting, those are some very big yaddas.Last month, we covered one of those yaddas when we discussed configuration-management systems, such as Chef, Puppet, Ansible, CFEngine and Salt. Those tools enable developers and systems operators to deploy fresh code on fresh systems in an automated fashion, it’s true. But the usage of those configuration and deployment-management systems covers only one of those three yaddas.The other two are closely inter-related, and much more managerially driven. One yadda would be agile processes, taken to their logical extremes and including the operations side of the puzzle every step of the way.The other yadda, as it were, would be unifying the actual medium through which these processes are expressed. While developers might keep their workloads and tasks in JIRA, Rational or Perforce, the operations side of the house might stash its tasks within Zendesk, ServiceNow, Zoho, Spiceworks, or any of a dozen other systems.
She used a free platform site to create her first website dedicated to Gore, her hero.But alas, Gore failed to notice Liukas, and she put programming on hold. For about 10 years she didn’t focus on technology at all. She went on to study philosophy, business, French and mechanical engineering. But the spark to get into programming never left her.“Programming was, and still is, a means to an end to me,” said Liukas. “It is a way for me to express myself creatively.”When the now 27-year-old was 23, she wanted to dip her toes into programming again and learn Ruby. She used websites like tryruby.org and codeacademy.com, read a bunch of books and tutorials, and ended up organizing a training workshop, which is now called Rails Girls. It all started in 2001 when 13-year-old Linda Liukas fell in love with Al Gore.As a teenager growing up in Finland, she followed U.S. politics very closely. She couldn’t quite explain it, but for some reason she became fascinated with the former vice president of the United States. She thought he had a great belief system and values, not to mention she thought he was very handsome.She wanted to find a way for him to notice her, and only one thing came to mind.“I had all this passion and creativity within me that I wanted to make a website to show him how much he meant to me,” said Liukas.