France’s climate change commitments

I sat numbingly and mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook news feed, my eyes unenthused crescent moons, my fingers robotic, my body a stone. After irrelevant minutes, I came across a picture that turned my waning crescents into full moons. I immediately perked up as I came across something that was actually worth my time. It was a picture my friend had posted while abroad in France. The picture was this:

Photo by: Julie Rozanski

Photo by: Julie Rozanski

My friend Julie captioned the photo, “Paris – Gare du Nord. You can sit at one of these tables with bike pedals and physically charge your phone by pedaling! So eco-friendly…epoustouflant!”

Now, you may be thinking this is fairly uninteresting like most things online. What’s the big deal? Why this picture? Well, as an environmentalist, I was very excited. I shared it on Facebook with my environmentalist friends and they all liked it. Any new sustainable invention or article sucks me in and sometimes makes my heart flutters from joy because of it. And, to be honest, I don’t understand why every single human doesn’t feel the way I do about sustainability advancements.

Luckily for Earth (and for my mental health and stability), there are fellow activists out there working, and environment issues are becoming a greater part of human lives. At the 2014 Climate Summit, more than 100 global leaders gathered in New York to discuss their plan to reduce their respective country’s carbon footprint. There were 44 countries that made commitments to carry out feasible solutions to the increasing environmental issues.

Peoples Climate March in New York City in honor of the Climate Summit 2014. Photo from Google.

Peoples Climate March in New York City in honor of the Climate Summit 2014, photo from google.com

Because the picture my friend posted was from France, I took interest in sustainability advancements in France. France’s leaders pledged that France “will commit $1 billion to Green Climate Fund over the ‘coming years.’”

“Coming years”? What does that even mean? But, to be fair, France’s pledge almost sounds better than the United States’, which states, “President Obama signed an executive order directing all federal agencies to begin factoring climate resilience into international development programs and investments. The U.S. is also deploying experts and technology to help vulnerable nations better prepare for weather-related disasters and plan for long-term threats.” None of that sounds clear cut with a plan for a specific quantifiable result.

I wondered if other francophone countries were that vague with their commitments, but not all were. Belgium, for example, pledged to “reduce emissions by 85% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.” Luxembourg, another francophone country, committed “$6.8 million to the Green Climate Fund — %1 of the country’s entire GDP.

Examples of renewable energy, photo from google.com

Examples of renewable energy, photo from google.com

After hearing about France’s somewhat imprecise commitment at the Climate Summit, I was frustrated. So, naturally, I did more research to see what were some actual attainable, concrete goals that France has set for itself (and for the world, for that matter) before and since the Climate Summit.

Since 2013, France has focused a large part of its country’s efforts on renewable energy. As of 2013, France has “committed 2 billion euros to renewable energy and energy efficiency” over a three-year period. France has also concentrated a large part of its efforts on sustainable energy in Africa to both rural and urban areas. France has invested millions in programs and resources towards many types of energy in France and countries in Africa. “By funding more than 230 million euros, France has developed the geothermal potential of the Olkaria site in Kenya, which is among the most important sites in Africa.”

In December, France will be hosting the Climate Conference Paris 2015. At this conference, 196 countries will commit to a solution to combat climate change. This climate conference will alter and update countries’ commitments to create a more sustainable Earth, as well as set new goals. The previous climate conferences and summits, while successful, have been criticized by using a ‘top-down’ approach, whereas for the Climate Conference Paris 2015, the goal is to shift the conversations towards hearing from each country what they would like to do and what is best for their infrastructure.

Photo from Google

Photo from google.com

Researching  about France’s (and other countries’) sustainability advancements and goals gives me hope and satisfaction. Because for me, the picture my friend posted on her Facebook was so much more than a cool post from a good friend in a different country. It sparked in me a hope for humanity. I saw this invention of a bicycle charger and I felt a sense of content for the world. Maybe we’re not all dooming Earth for the rest of our lives.

Oftentimes I get very overwhelmed by the weight of the world. I spend hours upon hours each week learning about the ways in which we harm the environment. I’m taught and teach others ways in which humans can change the path we’re headed towards and actually make a difference. I get very preoccupied on worrying about how we’re all going to clean up the giant dump we’ve taken on Earth, and I forget to look up and notice the positive, innovative, incredible things that thousands of people are doing right now through policy and service.

So thank you to Julie Rozanski for her picture. I doubt she ever thought it would make another human so content.

It’s a bird, It’s a plane, It’s a brand-new song

No matter your location, language or taste, discovering new music is a fun experience for most people, and when it’s free—even better. Air France realized the appeal of this activity and looked to the sky to create an innovative app for discovering new music.

Air France is “known for its music selection in on-air entertainment,”according to Skift.com. In fact, its “Air France Music” Facebook page has more than 165,000 fans.  The airline is taking its reputation for good music to the next level with its new app, “Music in the Sky,” released on November 13.

The app is simple to use: point your iphone to the sky, aim it at the music note that appears on your screen and discover a new track. What will make users keep coming back is the fact that the songs that are available change with your location.  According to Air France Music’s Facebook page, “From Paris to Tokyo via Buenos Aires, every sky in the world has its own music with our Air France Music iPhone application, Music in the Sky. Make new discoveries every time you travel!”

Of course I had to try the app for myself. At first I was skeptical. There had to be a catch. Would I be able to use it without being an Air France customer? Would a track be available to me in the middle of Missouri? So I downloaded the app, pointed my phone up and “caught” the track. Within seconds I was listening to a new song!

The app is cool because of how easy it is to use and the access it gives users to undiscovered artists and songs, but it doesn’t stop there. Throughout the year, the airline will give users access to unreleased tracks, concert tickets and even plan tickets “by discovering undiscovered hidden games in the sky,” according to an article from finchannel.com.

So far, users seem to be happy with “Music in the Sky.”  It’s got a five-star rating on Itunes, and all the comments on the app are positive.

User comments on iTunes

User comments on iTunes

Though I don’t think the app or Air France’s music selection would convince people to choose the airline over others, I think the app and interactive Facebook page are a great way to engage young travelers especially. The app will help Air France stick in the minds of travelers, so they log on to the airline’s website when they are looking for plane tickets.

 

One of the hidden games the app offers

One of the hidden games the app offers

 

Overall, I think the app is a great idea. It’s a smart move for Air France because it will help people become more familiar with the airline, and it’s a good opportunity for music-lovers to test their music knowledge and discover new music no matter where they are in the world.

I will definitely be pointing my phone skyward again soon to see what other songs I can discover.

Greek Students Shine in Worldwide Hackathon

Greek Hackathon 2012

Greek Students participating in WOWZAPP Hackathon 2012. Image from Forbes and courtesy of Microsoft.

On November 9th Microsoft launched its first ever WOWZAPP 2012: Worldwide Hackathon for Windows. It was a 48-hour global hackathon for students, startups and professionals all over the world. There were over 100 locations and more than 17,000 people registered for the event.

While the student registration ended up around 14,000, the European country with the most students invovled was Greece with more than 550 participants. Other countries with a great student turn out were Ireland with 200, Poland with 350 and Russia with 200.

“With more than 14,000 students registered to participate, WOWZAPP 2012 will be the largest simultaneous hackathon of student developers ever, acting as a catalyst to bring a wealth of new, exciting and quality apps to the Windows Store,” said Moorthy Uppaluri, general manager of Worldwide Academic Programs at Microsoft. “Microsoft is committed to empowering students with the tools and resources they need to showcase their creativity and make money through app development.” –Yahoo! Finance, Microsoft Corporation press release.

WOWZAPP 2012 Bing World Map

WOWZAPP 2012 participation World Map. Image courtesy of Microsoft Bing.

The WOWZAPP hackathon was a great way for people to come together and create Windows Store apps for the recent Windows 8 product launches. For Greece the turnout was spectacular despite transport strikes being held on the opening day of the hackathon. It shows that these young people are looking for ways better themselves and find employment. It is wonderful that despite all the hardship and frustration, they channeled their skills and knowledge to be apart of something that can only help their future.

“But being a developer has many advantages,” she adds, “and in Greece it’s one of the few job opportunities. I can work for people in a different country. Every developer can speak the same language, no matter the place.” –Lia Kampantai, a 24-year-old developer. Forbes, Parmy Olson 2012.

This event was also a way for them to make connections and become part of a global community that is looking for the younger generations help especially in the field of technology. Check out what people had to say about WOWZAPP 2012 on Twitter at #WOWZAPP.  Also visit the WOWZAPP alumni Facebook page.

And for now I leave you with this….

“I think a simple rule of business is, if you do the things that are easier first, then you can actually make a lot of progress.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Essay Competition for Youth Unemployment Solutions puts Money on the Line

Jobs Vanish

Image featured on the Henry Jackson Initiative website for the national competition in Britain to solve youth unemployment.

As youth unemployment is stretched far and wide across Europe, countries like Greece and Spain are currently taking the hardest hit. Britain has also taken notice to this trend and despite the number of jobs increasing; about 1 in 5 young people in the UK is unemployed.

According to an online article by The Telegraph,

“Globally, an estimated 75m under-25s are looking for work, with Greece and Spain suffering high levels of youth joblessness at above 50pc.”

In an effort to generate some creative and innovative ideas to decrease youth unemployment the Henry Jackson Initiative has joined forces with The Telegraph Media Group Limited to form a national competition in Britain, which is being sponsored by Sir Alec Reed, founder of Reed Specialist Recruitment.

What better way to spark a little friendly competition than to throw in a prize? £10,000 pounds to be exact, which equals out to be about $16,000 US dollars! That is certainly a lot of money at stake to complete an essay which is similar to a basic college assignment. There is also the possibility to gain some publicity by being published by The Daily/Sunday Telegraph and online at telegraph.co.uk.

If I was eligible to participate and interested in writing an essay (no more than 1,000 words) to help my country and win money I would say, sign me up! It’s like a civil duty not only to Britain, but to everyone affected by the Eurozone crisis and youth unemployment. Think about a serious issue, create an opinion and offer some solutions.

The general Terms and conditions are as follows according to HJI website:

 “This competition is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland aged 18 years or over, except for employees of Telegraph Media Group Limited and the Henry Jackson Initiative, their agents or anyone else professionally associated with the competition.”

Submissions are due by midnight on Friday, December 14, 2012 and the winner is to be notified by January 25, 2013. For more terms and conditions visit the Henry Jackson Initiative website.

Leading up to the announcement of the competition the Henry Jackson Initiative posted great links to their Facebook page about overall youth unemployment awareness. (Click the images to check out their Facebook Page.)

The Telegraph Facebook Post

The Telegraph Facebook Post

The Telegraph Facebook Post

The Telegraph Facebook Post

It would be great to see this competition successfully executed in Britain and for countries like Greece and Spain to take notice. It might not be possible to offer the same kind of incentive, but it would be great for other people to also take part in generating ideas to better their home countries.

 

And for now I leave you with this…

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.” – Albert Einstein

@GreeceUnemployment is breaking records! #InABadWay

According to a leaked government email, covered in my last post, the general public in Greece became aware that officials were considering implementing a 6-day workweek. I picked up the story while on my laptop reading about the Eurocrisis on CNN. This blog post topic was actually easier to find, because it presented itself with only the swipe of my finger.

I came across this tweet, which is very unfortunate news but great for me to talk about in my blog, while browsing through my twitter feed on my phone. This specific article also appeared on my Google alerts and I am sure it was covered by other news related twitter accounts. To keep my post narrow I am going to discuss the Huffington Post tweet as it pertains to the original source in which I gained my information.

 The article, Greece Unemployment Rises Above 25 Percent, was posted to Huffington Post’s website in the World section on October 11th. It was first tweeted by @HuffPostWorld and later tweeted by @HuffingtonPost, which is where I picked it up. The article explains that as of July unemployment has hit an overall record high of 25.1% with youth unemployment increasing well past 50%.

          I could continue on with the rather depressing figures and facts on the current economic crisis in Greece, however, I am going to touch on the reach (people who saw the tweet) for these two tweets and the reactions received after they were posted on twitter.

           When you combine these numbers there was a chance 2,168,750 people saw either tweet posted by Huffington Post. Keep in mind that excludes other news sources tweets, people who retweeted and their followers who had some kind of interacted with the tweet.

          Phew, I’ll let you digest that and move on to a variety of opinions people shared with their followers.

Proud

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

Satire

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

Related to American Government/Politics

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

Austerity: In economics terms – “A policy of deficit-cutting by lowering spending via a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided,” (Wikipedia).

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

Other

(2 part personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

(Personal reaction from Greece Unemployment tweet.)

 

I have to admit when I came across the tweet my only interaction was:
(1.) Seeing it
(2.) Taking a screen shot so I could find it later to write this post.

          I didn’t retweet, quote the tweet or even favorite it because I use twitter more as a source to gain information rather than share it. That is why I was able to come across the tweet because you can pick and choose what you want to be reading about. It also goes to show that twitter is the top dog for getting the word out in real time with the ability to reach millions of people.

         Think about your online presence, especially on twitter, and the way you interact and share its content. Don’t have a twitter? You should get one. Coming from a former skeptic at least check it out and learn about how it works.

And for now I leave you with this…

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

…..Now go try twitter.

French Facebook Bug Causes Panic

The logo for Facebook

On Sept. 24, French Facebook users caught word of a bug in the social media that displayed their private messages from 2007, 2008, or 2009 on their public wall. However, an investigation from the French government showed that the “bug” did not exist at all. Through several sources, I was able to trace the story all the way to the original article, and follow the news as it unfolded over the next few days.

According to TechCrunch the first reports of the bug came from the French publication MetroThey discovered that old private messages started to appear on users’ Timelines. TechCrunch also reported that the well-known newspaper Le Monde saw the story and informed readers about the bug, especially those who had the newspaper’s app on their phones.

It was at this point that the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) began their investigation. Led by 17 government officials, CNIL ensure that “information technology remains at the service of citizens, and does not jeopardize human identity or breach human rights, privacy or individual or public liberties.”

After the group’s inspection of the site, The Connexion reported that CNIL’s analysis of the problem found that the private messages were actually public messages. However, the group still had some criticisms about the website.

“The private character of the content of these messages seems indisputable,” they said. “In other words, users had the impression they were sending private messages when they were, in fact, using the wall-to-wall message system.” The same publication also quoted CNIL stating that Facebook needs to have “greater transparency” in regards to the private information of its many users.

While the scare may have been the fault of some users, I can’t help but point my finger at Facebook as well as the cause of this incident. The social media site has cosmetically and internally evolved over the years. Examples would be the integration of apps or its new Timeline look, which does not sit well with some users who complain about the site’s constant template changes.

While Facebook does show users the new features of Timeline when they switch to the new look, I don’t think it does enough to help users navigate the site. The “Help” button is not even visible on a user’s home page, which makes it hard to find for those who are not familiar with the site. I think that it should be visible in a place where old and new users can clearly see it. In addition, there should also be a video component so that users can see exactly how to perform certain actions so not to send messages publicly when they were intended to be private.

What do you think? Should Facebook toughen its approach on helping new users? Or do you think that the fault lies with those who mistakenly wrote their private messages on the public wall?

Facebook “Likes” Their New Location

A drawing of the server. Image from Google.

Facebook is putting their first server outside the United States in, of all places, Lulea, Sweden.  Why?  They are hoping it doesn’t explode.  The server is scheduled to be placed at the edge of the Arctic Circle in 2014.  Facebook flirted with several possible locations, but the Arctic Circle was determined to be prime real estate.  This goal of this bold move is to improve the performance of Facebook for European users (and to not blow up the server).

However, according to Sweden’s Pirate Party , a group that embraces people’s right to privacy, placing the server in that specific location will induce eavesdropping from Sweden’s National Defense Radio Establishment.  Referred to as the FRA, the National Defense Radio Establishment supports government authorities regarding technological threats.  The FRA conducts telephone and data traffic surveillance in effort to fight border terrorism and other crimes.

According to Jan Fredriksson, a spokesman for Facebook in Sweden, the telephone and data traffic surveillance will only affect users “who are strongly suspected of terrorism.”

There have been several privacy concerns with Facebook in Europe in regards to how long Facebook keeps its users’ personal information.  Anna Troberg, the leader of Sweden’s Pirate Party, “Facebook isn’t famous for caring about its users integrity, so they didn’t care about it in this case either.”  The European Commission is “planning a legal change…that may prompt U.S. Web giants like Google and Facebook to rethink how they store and process consumer data”, according to this New York Times article.

Facebook has received a lot of criticism over the implemented privacy policies, and will be making an effort to change some things.  A new

Photo from Google Images.

policy is in the midst of being approved.  It would enable users to “opt-in” to strangers accessing their personal information.  This means that users can change their privacy settings so that only their “friends” can view the information on their profiles.  If, however, the user sets their privacy settings to “everyone”, then anyone on Facebook can see their profile regardless of being the user’s friend or not.

I think it’s great that Facebook is putting a server outside the United States.  This will enable the more than 800 million users to expand even more.  Who knows, maybe Facebook will make it to one billion users.

Facebook: The Social Network or the Social Disease?

Austria creation of facebook. radiohead, social disease, social network. StudiVZ, the social network. ZuckerbergWith a name like Zuckerberg, you might think the creator of Facebook is German or Swiss or something like that. He actually is American and developed the social networking site at Harvard for Harvard students in 2004. So what does the American creator of Facebook have to do with European popular culture?

The Social Network” is a major motion picture about Mark Zuckerberg and the alleged process involved in creating Facebook. The movie will start playing in theaters Oct. 1 in the U.S., Oct. 7 in Germany and Oct 8 in Austria.

It is worthwhile to watch this overly dramatic trailer complete with an a capella version of, “Creep” by Radiohead.
Austria creation of facebook. radiohead, social disease, social network. StudiVZ, the social network. Zuckerberg
This trailer, is in German but you don’t need to know the language to see how exaggerated the movie is.

On the Austrian blog site Kurier.at there is a post about parody film trailers. These spoof trailers play off of the “Hollywood” portrayal of the creation of Facebook as seen in “The Social Network.” Based on reading the comments from the blog post “Verarsche für den Facebook-Film” (Parody of the Facebook movie), some Austrians think the parody is side-splitting funny. The post clarifies how the far-from-the-truth story about the creation of Facebook leaves the movie wide open to some mockery. The following spoof is about the creation of Youtube. It is obviously an entirely untrue story that makes fun of the much hyped “The Social Network.”

Austria creation of facebook. radiohead, social disease, social network. StudiVZ, the social network. Zuckerberg

This video is particularly funny after watching the original trailer. Please visit this post for the link to another spoof with strong language. The Kurier blog site also posted a second post about “The Social Network” with a link to free music downloads for several tracks from the movie.

Dustin Moskovit, the co-creator of Facebook and a character in the movie, writes on Q&A website Quora,

“Es ist interessant, meine Vergangenheit umgeschrieben zu sehen, in einer Art, die unwichtige Dinge hervorhebt und Dinge weglässt, die wirklich gezählt haben.”

My translation: it is interesting to see my past rewritten in a way that emphasizes the unimportant things and leaves out the things that really counted.

That must be strange to have a movie made about your life, which isn’t really your life. But we still want to see the movie. Don’t we? . What if StudiVZ had a dramatic trailer about its creation?

France’s Little Addiction

Défilé de Haute Couture Stéphane Rolland (automne-hiver) 2009/2010

3184916905_835b9ca251When you think of France, what usually comes to mind?

Couture fashion runways, fresh croissants, couples intertwined with the Eiffel Tower as their backdrop? How about this image: a 15 year old sitting with a Hot Pocket, clicking through photos (of strangers and friends alike) on Facebook at 2:00 a.m.? The second scene might be the most fitting.

Research done in February of 2008 shows that Facebook is now “ranked as the most popular social networking site with 12 million visitors, growing 443 percent over the course of the past year”. Though France was behind the U.K. and Germany, they are still a force to be reckoned with a 443% change from 07-08 in Facebook.com users alone, the same year the French option of Facebook was introduced. Outside of the previous study, Facebook has also grown in other French speaking cultures such as Canada where in April of this year, Facebook  made Canadian French available on the site.

To complete the translation from English to Canadian French, users who
added the Facebook translation application were allowed to submit translations
while browsing the site. The community then approved all translations through
a voting system that "voted up" or "voted down" each translation.

1963678404_fac15b7a0f

In the future, when you think of France, the first thing that comes to mind might not be images of Haute Couture fashion, excellent cuisine or ancient beauty. Instead you may get the same images when you picture home:  A comfy seat, some munchies and hours to waste on the world of Facebook.