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I will give that a moment to sink in.
Yes, Microsoft has made a code editor for Linux. And the pre-release version looks most promising especially for cross-platform development.
As a powerful code editor, Visual Studio Code comes with many great features. VS Code is meant for simple daily use yet offers more than your usual syntax highlighting text editor. Of course, it will highlight around thirty of the most common languages. VS Code also offers bracket matching, multiple selections and multiple cursor edition, code completion with what Microsoft calls “IntelliSense” for select languages, live references, peeked editor, hover information, and many other useful features.
Besides the powerful editing capabilities, VS Code features regex capable search, has a simple git interface and handles git commands, and also comes with a debugger.Installing Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code comes as a distribution agnostic binary for Linux. There is no installer, which is probably better, as you might not want Microsoft-made application request root privileges on your system (Even though Microsoft is one of the biggest contributors to the Linux kernel development, it just gives a certain peace of mind for the long-time Linux user.).
You can get the current pre-release version with
and unzip the downloaded file into it:
Creating a symlink will make it easier to run VS Code, which in our case would look like:
Then just runcode
from a terminal or create a desktop shortcut. If you have a project you’d like to load when VS Code starts, enter the directory and runcode .
Upon first start, you will be greeted with a dark-themed, dual-pane simple code editor window, showing a welcome message.
The welcome screen is a mix of markup and markdown, and as such it is an excellent showcase of how easily VS Code can render markdown. On the following image, the welcome file is shown twice, its code beside its preview (Ctrl + Shift + V to toggle):
When you load some chúng tôi projects, however, you will be greeted with a complaint.
VS Code uses mono 3.10+, and without it some of its functionality does not work as expected. Unfortunately mono 3.10 did not yet find its way into most Linux distros. On Ubuntu 15.04, you will still get version 3.2.8 packaged. To install the latest version, chúng tôi recommends to add a Debian Wheezy repository. This will of course be compatible with Debian-based systems, but mixing distro repositories is usually not considered a very good idea.
If you absolutely must have the latest mono (4.0.1 at the time of writing) or you want to rely on VS Code for production (which you should not, as it is pre-relrease), you can add the repository with:
For more options and information, visit the mono-project website.
Now you are all set and ready to use VS Code in all its glory, apart from the occasional small glitches, as it is still pre-release (Microsoft does not like to call it beta for some reason.).A quick look at the features
As noted above, VS Code comes with several useful and indeed powerful capabilities. The most interesting ones are outlined below. (The screenshots were taken on a random Microsoft code sample project downloaded from MSDN.)
Code completion: just start typing and you will be offered anything that matches the syntax of the file’s language. (If not, press Ctrl + Space)
Go to definition: quickly find any definition with “Ctrl + F12” (depending on language). If you press Ctrl and hover over a an object, you can get a preview of its declaration so that you will not need to jump anywhere.
Dynamic reference info: you get real-time reference information.
Peek editor: you must not switch context; you can have a “sneak-peek” with “Ctrl + Shift + f10.”
You also get simple version control with gitConclusion
Visual Studio Code is a breakthrough. It is Microsoft’s next effort to make cross platform development (that also includes Linux) easier after open-sourcing their .NET core. While it packs some interesting features, it might feel unusual for someone accustomed to developing on Linux at first. Still VS Code can easily become a go-to tool for chúng tôi and NodeJS developers who only visit Linux for the quick checkup/debuggin, yet the Linux-native developer may still shy away from it at present.
If you already run mono 3.10+ and are used to some VisualStudio features, VS Code might just be right for you. Otherwise, you might just find yourself hard-pressed to look for the proper justification to move away from your preferred Linux native editor/IDE just yet. Nevertheless, Visual Studio Code is promising, with a potential to become a really powerful editor for cross platform development.
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The ZTE Axon Mini Premium is one of those odd smartphone designs that you absolutely love and positively hate. Had this phone been designed and manufactured from some unknown phone maker (Uhans for example) then nobody would have taken notice and it would have gotten a lot of flack, but because the mighty ZTE is behind it and loaded it up with some really interesting features then we have taken notice.ZTE Axon Mini Premium First Impressions
First of all I am not keen on the design. I don’t like the fake leather and faux stitching and I am not keen on the odd design around the camera and flash area. It’s obvious that ZTE really have tried to make a phone that oozes quality, but for me they shouldn’t have bothered. On the other hand my wife loves the look and design (she even likes the terrible icons in the custom Android ROM!).
So while I might not have been won over with the looks of the phone I do like the compact design, I love this thin narrow body, the 5.2-inch display is wonderful and the tech behind this phone is really interesting.
It’s not just how good the screen looks but also the hidden tech behind it. You see the ZTE Axon Mini Premium has Force Touch. Basically this means the screen is pressure sensitive and you can activate functions by simply pressing more firmly on the display. There are a few features enabled as standard but the best I have found is the option for a hard press on an app icon to show the available shortcuts (check out the video below for a demo).Gizchina News of the week
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Above and below the display are front facing speakers. Awesome! Front facing speakers are why I’ve personally ordered the new Lenovo flagship, and front speakers on the Axon Mini give amazing audio for watching video or playing games. Please more phone makers do this!
ZTE have also packed the phone with security features. There is a rear fingerprint scanner that requires just 6 touches to set up, and then there is the ‘Sky Eye’ feature that uses a scan of your eye for app locking. At this time I’ve not had the chance to play around with this. Finally there are pattern and pin options for locking your phone and a voice print, again I’ve not tried this.
The rear of the phone is where we find the 13 mega-pixel PDAF rear camera and dual LED flash above the single touch fingerprint scanner. I’ve not had much chance to try the camera yet, but so far it seems about average, I was expecting better really but we will see the final results in the finished review.
As already mentioned the ZTE Axon Mini Premium has a very customised ROM with added features, its own UI, custom settings and a voice assistant. The ZTE voice assistant is interesting as it does not require an internet connection for certain features, and it accurately understands you out of the box. Again more time with the phone will tell just how useful the feature is.
Other interesting spec details of the ZTE Axon Mini Premium include an octacore Snapdragon 616 chipset running at 1.5Ghz, 3GB RAM, 32GB memory, 8 mega-pixel front camera and a 2800mAh battery.ZTE Axon Mini Premium First Impressions – Conclusion
So far I am super intrigued with the ZTE Axon Mini. I’m excited by the cool unique tech packed in to the slim body, I wonder how well optimised the battery and performance will be, and most of all I want to figure out who exactly ZTE are aiming this phone at. The design says the style conscious, but the cool tech says otherwise. Its an odd mix so how will it all turnout? Find out in our ZTE Axon Mini review coming soon.
Apple News+ launched in the UK yesterday, more than six months after it did so in the US.
I hadn’t been too impressed by the free offerings in Apple News and had actually removed the app from both my iPhone and iPad, but Apple News+ in the UK gave me a chance to re-evaluate it with its boosted content…
The name Apple News has always been somewhat misleading. What you get in reality are some newspapers and lots of magazines. That hasn’t changed. It would really be more accurate to name the service Apple Magazines (and Newspapers).
Indeed, the only UK newspaper added yesterday was The Times and its sister edition The Sunday Times. However, the Independent and Guardian were already on board the free offering so that does cover the three main papers for me.
But Apple sweetened the deal considerably by including access to two key US papers: the LA Times and Wall Street Journal.
I’m not really a magazine guy these days. When I reviewed Magzter Gold back in 2023, they gave me a one-year subscription, but I’d more-or-less stopped using it within a few weeks, and deleted the app long before the subscription expired.
Indeed the line between websites and magazines has now been blurred to such an extent, it’s not immediately obvious why the digital magazine format exists. My colleague Bradley made the same observation a few days ago.
The problem, in my opinion, is that people don’t care about digital magazines. We’ve tried this with the Daily magazine (which I enjoyed), with Newsstand, and now with Apple News+. The content isn’t necessarily the problem, but rather the packaging. Why do I care if an article is inside of an app that is then packaged inside of another thing? I want to read the article […]
If I wanted to read Athlon Sports on my iPad or iPhone, I’d be content just reading it on Safari with Reader View enabled. I don’t need it in a faux magazine to enjoy it.
I’m of much the same view. If a magazine has a website – and they all do – then I’ll tend to just go there.
That said, the deal does include three magazines worth money to me: New York, Scientific American, and The Atlantic.
So although I can look at the deal and on the one hand say I’m not getting many publications of interest to me, there’s another way of looking at it. Instead of saying Apple is selling me more than 150 publications, most of which don’t interest me, I can think of it as the company offering me a subscription to seven publications for just over a quid a month each. That’s a decent deal – with the bonus of a bunch of other magazines I might sample from time to time.The big unknown with Apple News+ UK
The first big unknown for me at present is how much of the Times and WSJ we’re getting. Both publications say it’s not everything, but it isn’t clear what that really means. My colleague Benjamin Mayo has found that if you see a paywalled piece on the web, you can go to the share sheet and select Open in Apple News … and so far it’s always been there.
Archives are one difference we do know about, but I honestly can’t think of a time when I’ve wanted to look up an old article in a specific publication. If I’m searching for an old news story, it’s typically because I want to remember when exactly something happened or remind myself of some detail, and then any Google search does the job perfectly well.
There may be some sleight of hand going on here. The papers want to retain their direct subscribers, so they need to be able to say Apple News+ subscribers don’t get everything – and they reinforce this idea by limiting discoverability in the app – but there is perhaps much more there than it would appear.
I will get one clue. Quite a lot of paywalled Times pieces pop up in my Facebook newsfeed, so I’ll be able to see whether I’m able to access all of these in Apple News+.The second unknown for me personally
Will I let it renew at the end of the month’s trial? I think that will be determined by two factors. First, as mentioned, whether or not I find missing content. Second, how often I actually open the app. I tend to get most of my news from the BBC News site and app, so when I read a paper, it’s more for long-form pieces: features and op-eds. And those are competing with other forms of entertainment, mostly books, social media, and the web.
If I do use the app regularly, and I do find all the content I want, then I think it’ll be a no-brainer. Let’s see …
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Skydio 2 first impressions: Autopilot drone is a clear high-flier
Drones are fun, but learning how to fly drones effectively is generally a lot less fun, and that’s where Skydio 2 comes in. The second-generation of the autopilot drone, it’s smaller, faster, and smarter than its predecessor, not to mention considerably cheaper. I’ve been testing it out, and already I’m impressed.
One huge improvement is size. The original Skydio R1 was clever but big: each motor was enclosed in a fixed frame, which made sure the numerous cameras didn’t shift around in flight. That was important for the autopilot system, but meant that the drone was considerably larger than its folding counterparts.
Skydio 2 has fewer cameras, each with much higher resolution, and so the drone can be much smaller. It still doesn’t fold, but the carrying case now fits far easier into a backpack (and has a shoulder strap of its own). There’s space inside for a spare battery, spare propellers, and the charger, though not the new Beacon or Controller.
Despite the onboard smarts, Skydio 2 still needs clear visibility and dry skies in which to successfully fly. They’ve been in short supply in Northern California lately, so with a limited number of flights under my belt my full review will have to wait a little longer. Still, trying to fit as much flight time in as possible, in-between bad weather, has actually highlighted one of the reasons Skydio’s new drone is so appealing.
Being able to get up and running, quickly and with minimal focus on “piloting” and more on just capturing what you want to capture, is a rare pleasure in the quadcopter world. There are plenty of affordable drones out there, small enough to fit into a backpack and with 20+ minutes of flight time on a charge. The problem with them is having to pilot manually.
Skydio 2 offers a manual flight mode, sure. In fact, as well as controlling it through the app with onscreen buttons and joysticks, as per the original drone, you can now connect your phone to a dedicated controller with the expected joysticks. Skydio uses Parrot’s design for that, with a flip-up holder for your iPhone or Android, and it’s easy to use with dedicated camera angle and zoom toggles. However you can just as easily bypass manual flight altogether.
With the new Skydio Beacon, the core controls are pared down to the essentials. It connects directly to the drone – and can also pair with your smartphone, so that you get the full functionality of the app but also the extra range of the Beacon – and has a small dissolution, a few buttons, and onboard GPS. Skydio 2 usually relies on visual tracking, but with a Beacon connected it can fall back to GPS if it loses sight of you.
What’s impressive is how rapidly you can be flying and filming. Turn the drone on, launch it with the Beacon, and then it automatically switches into follow mode. You can then use the arrow buttons to change the direction from which it follows: all the way around from directly behind you or trailing at an angle, to directly ahead of you or leading from off to one side. Other buttons control the distance from you, with three settings, and everything is shown on the monochrome display.
Within about a minute I had Skydio 2 in the air, set to follow from a mid-range and alongside, and tracking my car. If you don’t like how the autopilot positions itself, you can double-tap and hold a button and use the Beacon as a magic wand to drag the drone around the sky. Releasing it leaves it to hover in place. Maximum speed has increased with this second-generation, to 36 mph, and the Beacon’s controls are easy enough to adjust while you’re on the move and have the drone swing around you for the sort of tracking shots that would usually demand a reasonably-skilled pilot.
The Beacon also has the ability to trigger different trick shots, though if you want the full range of those you’ll need to head back into the app. You can do the usual array of dronies: swinging around you in a tightening or broadening loop; zooming out into the sky from you or vice-versa; and others. You can choose which one can be triggered from the Beacon, too.
Manual piloting is more forgiving than with non-smart drones. I’m not the best drone operator out there: it just requires more investment in time than I have spare to give it. Skydio’s obstacle avoidance stays active even when you’re in charge of the sticks yourself, though. Try to fly Skydio 2 into a wall or tree and it will swerve around.
Skydio’s autopilot isn’t infallible, and flying the drone isn’t entirely panic-free. During one car-tracking shot, for example, it collided with a thin branch too small for the cameras to identify, spinning briefly in the air before it settled. Then I had to get my phone out to pilot it back over.
Sometimes, the autopilot seems too smart for its own good. With a traditionally piloted drone you can be pretty confident that it will stay hovering where you leave it. Skydio 2, though, sometimes repositions itself without explanation, which can be disconcerting when they means it flying up into the tree canopy. You can trigger a return to home and landing from any of the three control options – app, Beacon, or Controller – but Skydio 2 won’t take into account potential obstacles when it’s landing so you do have to be pretty confident about the surface it’s descending to and the airspace it’s passing through to get there.
Then there are a few everyday usability annoyances I’ve run into. I like how Skydio’s batteries attach magnetically and have a proportional LED gage to show current charge, but I wish you could recharge them outside of the drone. Instead you can only charge one at a time, using a USB-C charger plugged into Skydio 2. The little clip used to keep the camera locked into place when not in use is fiddly, too, and doesn’t protect the actual lens; some sort of plastic cover that slipped over the whole gimbal would be preferable.
I do feel like I’m nit-picking, however. I’ve no shortage of drones that I could be flying, but generally the knowledge that I’ll spend the majority getting to grips with piloting and still probably end up underwhelmed by the footage that comes from it is pretty discouraging. Skydio 2 feels very different to that.
We’re still not at the point where you can turn a camera-drone on, have it leap into life and start filming, and leave it completely to its own devices. Skydio’s software is clever, but it’s not that clever. Yet the convenience of using Skydio 2 without having to worry about mastering traditional drone controls is a huge step forward. Anybody who has wanted to add drone video to their outdoor activities, but been put off because of the headaches that usually come with that, may find that the autopilot on offer here is enough to lower that barrier to the point where it’s really worth considering.
Visual, real-time content must move up the agenda
I said something in a meeting this week, it’s pure opinion to be honest, but I think I can back it up and wanted to post about it this week:- “brands that can leverage real-time, visual content will find themselves market leaders.” Would you agree or disagree?A move to visual content since 2012?
I also remembered a great Altimeter report, again from 2012 that revealed a deep confidence that marketers saw the importance of visual content, social and mobile. We’d have to say that was well founded as it turned out?:
Equally, this 2012 research revealed that, amongst a lot of other insight, 44% of users are more likely to engage with brands posting imagery in social channels, over those that don’t. That’s 2012, we’ve come along way in two short years. This quote is useful to summarise the case:
“Blogs were one of the earliest forms of social networking where people were writing 1,000 words… When we moved to status updates on Facebook, our posts became shorter. Then micro-blogs like Twitter came along and shortened our updates to 140 characters. Now we are even skipping words altogether and moving towards more visual communication with social-sharing sites like Pinterest.” Dr. William J. Ward, Social Media professor at Syracuse University (2012)The rise of micro, visual content
Since the observations above in 2012, we’ve seen visual content evolve faster than we’d imagined. Micro content, including short form video via Vine and Instagram, Snapchat and the established might of Facebook and Twitter, all provide means of visual communication and social sharing to the consumer, and with that consumer behaviour change marketers are having to get involved, albeit pretty slowly, considering?
So here I repeat my statement: “brands that can leverage real-time, visual content will find themselves market leaders.” All I’m saying in addition to the above evidence is that the visual content needs to also be of the moment as well, real-time – that relevance requires visual content and it has a deadline. I’ll spare the repetition of Oreo’s 2013 ‘dunk in the dark’ masterclass, and link here if that’s new to you. If it is, where have you been for a year!?So what should brands do?
Glad you asked, because that’s what we’ve been discussing this week, and I’d like to share our thoughts and hear your reactions:
Mobile audience. I know, again, boring, mobile matters. Yet it bears repeating, your customer or consumer is on the end of a mobile, most likely glued to it. They can create and consume content on the fly. Imagine where we’ll be as computing power increases, and Gen-Y moves into the workforce. Right now, strategic planning for most of us must but content + mobile right at its centre.
Talent and process. You’re going to need lots of this, whether in-house and/or agency. Creating quality visual content is a fundamental way to earn a disproportionate share of consumer attention. That Oreo case study happened because talent and process combined under open leadership with a real-time mindset. They sought to be relevant. It’s unlikely that campaign led thinking from the 1960’s will serve us at all from here on, and nor will “hiring a journalist” either.
Visual imagery and high production values. Average content, visual or otherwise, won’t cut it. Your consumer is already looking at better stuff than most brands are creating. A 10 year old can film and edit video on a smart-phone, so what does that tell you about where the bar is? No, it’s higher than that.
Build your brand a platform. With consumers spread across a range of websites and channels, your brand platform (the combination of your owned and earned media) needs to be broad, to have consistency and quality, in order to be relevant. You’re going to have to ‘show up’ in more places, on more days, with relevant content.
Real-time conversation. It’s tempting to think that, with uncapped budget, you could ‘blast’ the market with your amazing video. Not really. It’s not practical or affordable, and nor is it relevant. We know social media is two-way, this requires you create content that serves at the right time, on the right outpost, and that’s ‘of the moment’. Being customer-led is no longer the option it may once have appeared to be.
Micro-content. High quality short form content is now the new standard for savvy brands. Easy to consume, a pleasure to look at it, and fleetingly relevant – about as good as you can hope in social? But build a process to make that possible everyday. Imagine the power of that? It’s good enough for Coke.
Content strategy. I think this is the key to making it work, otherwise there’s just too much to think about, and too much budget to waste. For efficiency of scale and consistency of message, content must be well equipped to travel across devices, platforms, formats, and media. Developing a content strategy that is made of modular content. When images, headlines, body copy, charts, photos and graphs can be assembled and reassembled to serve different functions on a variety of platforms and channels (e.g. swapping out elements to create appropriate messaging for a web site, Facebook and Twitter, as well as Instagram, Vine and YouTube). Brands and messages will have the consistency and resonance required, to rise above a the noise and stand out consistently.
Commercial sanity. It’s important to test new types of content across your owned and shared channels. To understand what works for you and your audience. You can also work with your influencers to co-create content with them or get your new content in their hands to share with their networks. Measure what happens, improve – at least nothing changes in this respect.
What do you think, what would you challenge or add to on the list above?
Unlike conventional note-taking, which can “border on the edge of transcription,” allowing students to try more visual, interpretive methods of processing materials helps them “identify connections between topics and themes,” writes Nimah Gobir for KQED.
One technique known as sketchnoting—simple, hand-drawn renderings of things like facts, dates, or abstract concepts—allows students to respond to complex new ideas by engaging multiple parts of the brain simultaneously to deepen learning and retention, says Gobir. Instead of passively writing down everything a speaker is saying, the practice pushes students to actively process and make sense of what they’re learning.
“Sketchnoting doesn’t just lead to gains in keeping students’ attention, it’s a useful way for learners to organize and retain information,” she writes. “They’re actively listening and creating a visual representation of what they’re learning while continuing to stay engaged in class.”
Findings from a 2023 study back that up: Students who were asked to draw what they’d learned were nearly twice as likely to remember information than students who wrote the same information down. Drawing wins out because it allows information to be processed in multiple ways, explained Edutopia’s research editor Youki Terada: “When we draw, we encode the memory in a very rich way, layering together the visual memory of the image, the kinesthetic memory of our hand drawing the image, and the semantic memory that is invoked when we engage in meaning-making.”
Here are some ways to introduce visual note-taking to your students:
Rethink Your Paper: Note-taking doesn’t need to happen between the lines and within the margins of a sheet of notebook paper. The “more rigid structure of lines and lines of text” can bind the minds of some students, while the freedom to reimagine the space can free them, writes Gobir. Encourage students to play with spacing, vary text sizes, and add symbols anywhere on the page “to create a hierarchy of information that might be harder to capture in linear text.”
Start With a Little Practice: Not all students will welcome the idea of sketchnoting and other visual note-taking methods at first, so encourage them to start off just scribbling. Artist and educator Todd Berman has students “scribble for the duration of a song,” Gobir explains, which gets the creative juices flowing and creates a comfortable setting for the introduction of the concept. Berman then invites students to share what they’ve created with the class.
Develop a Symbolic Language: Educator Wendi Pillars has students “identify 10 key words or concepts” from the current learning materials and begin developing a visual library of shorthand—like an icon or character—to represent them, shares Gobir. Get students’ input for the library too, recommends Pillars, so “you have a co-created visual vocabulary that everybody can refer to when they take their own notes.” In time, students will develop their own vocabularies and visual note-taking styles independently.
Keep It Low-Fidelity: Communicate to your students that they don’t have to be accomplished artists to use visual note-taking techniques: The process isn’t about ensuring that the sketches and drawings look good, but that students find a way to tease out the relationships between topics and concepts. “It’s giving them permission to say, ‘You know what? Here’s the key concept. Here’s the key information,” explains Pillars, who says she emphasizes to students that there is no right or wrong way to take visual notes.
Skip the Grading: Sketchnoting, diagrams, freehand drawing, mind-mapping, and similar techniques are vehicles to get student thoughts down on paper—not practices meant to demonstrate their mastery of subject material. Educator Sarah Schroeder suggests focusing on grading what is “construct relevant,” or “avoiding measuring what is irrelevant or can’t be measured,” like creativity. Attaching a grade to visual note-taking might inhibit the student as they struggle to make sense of complex material, make them feel self-conscious, or simply be so subjective as to be meaningless—so provide feedback rather than a grade.
Join In: Modeling visual note-taking techniques for your students can be a great way to inspire them to try something new. Pillars uses her whiteboard and paper to show students how she visualizes her thoughts. “As we take the notes together, I will ask students, ‘How would you represent it?’” she shared with Gobir. “And they’ll shout out ideas like, ‘You could draw this or this!’ And sometimes I tell them ‘I can’t draw that! You want to come on up here and show [the class]?’”
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