SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.–Yangervis Solarte has every excuse to be tense.His three daughters, Yanliett, Yuliett and Yulianna, are home in Florida as Solarte competes for a roster spot with the San Francisco Giants in Arizona. He doesn’t know when exactly he’ll see them again and he’s uncertain if he’ll finish the spring with a major league job in hand.Through the pain of separation and the trials of competition, Solarte remains remarkably calm.“When you have a passion like this, no matter what, …
South Africa’s 2014 matric students achieved a pass rate of 75.8%, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced at the SABC in Johannesburg on Monday.(Image: Department of Basic Education)Brand South Africa reporterWhile the 75.8% pass rate represents a 2.4 percentage point drop from the 2013 pass rate of 78.2%, Motshekga said the bar had been raised to improve the quality of the examination outcome and enhance the quality and standard of Grade 12 graduates.“At the beginning of the exams, I did announce much more stringent marking criteria. Marker appointments were also audited and a tighter moderation process was put in place,” Motshekga said.The National Senior Certificate exam was written by 550 127 full-time and 1387nbsp;533 part-time candidates. This is the first year the new national Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) programme has been tested at matric level.Of the total number of learners who wrote the NSC exam, 150 752 (28.3%) qualified for admission to bachelor studies.The class of 2014 will be able to access their results on Tuesday.Motshekga said the 135 943 learners who qualified to write supplementary exams in February and March would will be given special support to prepare.“After receiving their results, they should start immediately to prepare for their supplementary exams,” she said.There has been an increase in achievements by distinction in some subjects, the minister said. History increased from 3.3% to 4.1%; Mathematical Literacy increased from 1.8% to 2.4%; and Physical Science increased from 3.0% to 3.3%.How SA’s provinces fared“All provincial education departments have worked tirelessly and consistently hard,” Motshekga said. “Preparations for grade 12 start at grade R and therefore there is no grade less important than the other.”Gauteng was the most successful province, recording a 84.7% pass rate – down 2.3 percentage points from 87% in 2013.Gauteng contributed the highest number of candidates qualifying for bachelor studies at 36 843, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 35 724 and Western Cape at 18 524.The North West was the second best performing province, with a pass rate of 84.6% – down from 87.2% in 2013.The Free State, which was the top province in 2013, came in third with 82.8%, down from 87.4% in 2013.The Eastern Cape had the poorest results, achieved 65.4%. This, however, is an increase of 0.5 percentage points from 64.9% in 2013.KwaZulu-Natal achieved 69.7%, a decline from 77.4% in 2013, and a drop of 7.7 percentage points. It is the steepest decline of all the provinces.“We need to look seriously into the factors affecting KZN’s performance,” Motshekga said.The Western Cape achieved 82.2%, down from 85.1% in 2013, a decline of 2.9 percentage points.ImprovementsLimpopo achieved 72.9% in 2014, a 1.1 percentage point increase from 71.8% last year.“Limpopo needs to be congratulated for sustaining the upward trend in the midst of many challenges bearing in mind that this group of learners was the group that was affected by delays in the delivery of books in 2012,” said Motshekga.The number of bachelor passes in the province is also notable at 16 325.The Northern Cape improved its pass rate by almost 2 percentage points, achieving 76.4%, up from 74.5% in 2013. This is the highest improvement in 2014.Mpumalanga achieved 79%, up by 1.4 percent from 77.6% in 2013.District performanceMotshekga said none of the 81 education districts in the country had performed below 50%. Last year, one district in the Eastern Cape had performed below 50%.“In the Eastern Cape, the eight districts that performed between 50% and 59% have been reduced to five, with two districts from KwaZulu-Natal joining this category. Twelve districts from the Eastern Cape performed under 69%, four from KwaZulu-Natal and one from Limpopo,” Motshekga said.She said four out of five districts in the Free State performed above 80%, with the fifth district achieving between 70% and 79%.“In Gauteng, 13 out of 15 districts performed above 80% and the other two performed between 70% and 79%. In Limpopo, one out five performed above 80%, while in Mpumalanga one out of four.“In the Northern Cape, one out of four performed above 80% and in the Western Cape all districts performed above 80%,” Motshekga said.The top six performing districts are:Gauteng West at 92.7%;Sedibeng East District at 90.7%;Ekurhuleni North at 88.7%;West Coast in the Western Cape 88.4%; andOverberg in the Western Cape and Johannesburg South both at 88.1%.InitiativesMotshekga said the focus in 2014 was on improving performance in key gateway subjects and supporting under-performing schools and their principals.“These initiatives have yielded results. However, there is much more work that needs to be done and it starts on the first day of school for all grades,” she said.For the past four years, the pass rate has increased from 60.6% in 2009 to 78.2% in 2013.Motshekga said the quality of education of any system is predicated on the quality of its teachers.She said the qualification profile of teachers in the sector has improved from 53% in 1990 to 97% in 2013.“Going forward, we will work hard to sustain improvement in learner performance, enhanced accountability at all levels of the system, greater focus on basic functionality of schools, and protecting time for teaching and learning,” Motshekga said.Read Minister Angie Motshekga’s speech in full: Announcement of the 2014 NSC examination resultsWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.
The Nelson Mandela Bridge, named after South Africa’s first democratic President, has won several awards. The bridge is situated in Johannesburg.The Nelson Mandela Bridge get a pink illumination every year since 2012 to raise awareness for breast cancer. (Image: South African Tourism)Brand South Africa reporterParis has its Eiffel Tower, New York its Statue of Liberty, Sydney its Harbour Bridge. And downtown Johannesburg has the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge.Named after the man who led South Africa across the apartheid divide, the bridge was opened by Nelson Mandela in July 2003. Crossing no less than 46 operational railway lines, the 284-metre-long bridge is largest cable-stayed bridge in southern Africa.Designed by Dissing+Weitling Architecture, the bridge has won numerous awards, including the South African Institute of Civil Engineering Award for Most Outstanding Civil Engineering Project Achievement in Technical Excellence category.The bridge links the Braamfontein business area with the Newtown precinct. Taking two years to build, the bridge was at the heart of a inner city renewal project by Gauteng province’s economic development initiative, Blue IQ. (Blue IQ has since merged with the Gauteng Development Agency to become the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency).The rejuvenation project aimed to create a “cultural arc” – a crescent from Constitution Hill through Braamfontein and down to Newtown, which is now known as the city’s cultural precinct.The bridge links important civic and cultural institutions: the Constitutional Court, the Civic Theatre and Wits University in Braamfontein; Mary Fitzgerald Square, the Market Theatre and the 1913 Museum Africa in Newtown.Other attractions in the area are the Dance Factory, the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre and the SAB World of Beer. The square regularly hosts several big events, including the Joy of Jazz festival and Diwali.During 2011’s Joburg Fashion Week, South African designer David Tlale turned the bridge into the longest ramp in the history of South African fashion. Tlale’s Made In The City collection featured 92 models in celebration of 92 years of Nelson Mandela’s life.Watch:In 2012, the City of Johannesburg and a cosmetics company lit the bridge pink for a week in an effort raise awareness about breast cancer.Facts about the bridgeNelson Mandela Bridge carries two lanes of traffic and has two sidewalks for pedestrians as well as a cycle path, with a continuous toughened glass parapet to ensure pedestrian safety.According to Construction Weekly:The asymmetrical dual-pylon cable-stay bridge is made up of a 66-metre north back span, a 176-metre main span and a 42-metre south back span, giving a total length of 284 metres.The north pylon is 42-metres high and the south pylon 27-metres high, creating a delicate balance and an interesting visual appeal.The main span was built as light as possible, using structural steel with a concrete composite deck, while the heavier back spans were built from reinforced concrete to counterbalance the long main span.The bridge is supported on the largest pot bearings ever to be installed in South Africa. The 1.5-metre diameter bearings, which have a capacity of up to 27 Mn, are designed to accommodate the large temperature movements of the bridge.Approximately 4 000 cubic metres of concrete and 1 000 tons of structural steel were used to construct the bridge, with around 500 tons of reinforcing steel cast into the concrete.Sources: South African Tourism, Dissing+Weitling Architecture, Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, Construction Weekly, and the City of Johannesburg.Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material
SharePrint Related Editor’s Note: Martin Pedersen was the focus of a Geocaching.com video, “Geocaching Diet” in mid-2010. He succeeded in losing more than 30 pounds. But Martin will tell you losing 30 pounds still leaves him with a sense that he hasn’t fully succeeded. His weight loss goal was much loftier. The author of the blog FamilyNavigation.com hoped to lose 100 pounds. We still think his geocaching diet was a success. Martin leads a healthier and more active lifestyle today and he’s kept the weight off. Here is Martin’s story, in his own words. Martin Pedersen, pictured here with his family, spent a year on a geocaching diet. Last year my New Year’s Resolution was to get into shape and lose weight. On January 1st I had no idea how I would do it. A fad diet and a gym membership were not going to work for me and two weeks into January I still did not know how I was going to keep my resolution. There had to be a way I could add enjoyable daily exercise into my busy routine. I wanted to pick an activity that I would crave to do each day and was more enjoyable than the passive activities I had been wasting my time with. Still confused I did what I normally do when I have important things to think about; I went for a hike. The combination of nature, fresh air, and exercise always lifts my spirits and allows me to think clearly.Martin geocaching in British Columbia, CanadaI quickly threw the essentials into my backpack which includes water, notebook, pen, and a GPS receiver. The first three items had been part of my hiking pack for as long as I could remember but the GPSr was a new addition. I had been introduced to geocaching a number of months prior and I was slowly getting obsessed. Even though I was going on a hike to come up with ideas, there was no reason why I couldn’t find a few geocaches along the way.My wife was introduced to geocaching from a friend and when she told me about it she knew that it would be something I would really get into. I love to play outside, I am a true explorer at heart, I enjoy challenges, and I like activities I can quantify. Imagine if I could build an exercise routine around hiking and geocaching.On that most enjoyable geocaching hike I did imagine it and as soon as I got back I went to work to figure out if I could possibly fit regular geocaching into my schedule. After an evening worth of research I explained the concept of a geocaching exercise challenge to my wife. The plan was to find 1000 geocaches in one year while hiking 2500kms and trying to lose as much weight as possible, hopefully up to 100lbs. She always amazes me with the enthusiasm she greets my crazy ideas. Three days later I started the Geocache Diet.I have gone hiking almost every day for 11 months and in that time I have found nearly 900 geocaches while walking the equivalent distance to get from Canada to Mexico (taking the scenic route of course). I have hiked through beautiful forests, past waterfalls, alpine lakes and beaches. I have walked back-country roads, urban streets, bicycle paths, plus a fair bit of bushwhacking.Many of the caches I have found had parking right next to them but instead of simply driving from location to location I would always link a few together on a circle walk through town. My family likes caching and they joined me on as many outings as we could manage but a lot of the time I was alone. I have found caches in all types of weather including pouring rain, wind storms, and in the snow. I have not lost as much weight as I would have liked but I have been rewarded with the benefits of regular exercise. This challenge has succeeded in getting me outside to work up a sweat daily where other attempts have failed. The main reason that this challenge worked was that it was just too much fun. Geocaching is such an enjoyable, inexpensive, accessible, and inclusive activity which everyone can do and that makes it a perfect complement to regular exercise.Martin geocaching with his familyThe hardest part of doing any exercise challenge is making the time commitment. Before starting this challenge I looked at my schedule and wrote down everything I needed to do each week (like work, family time, and sleep).I found that, even though I am a busy person, by cutting out activities like watching TV I had enough time to complete this challenge. I did not cut out anything that I enjoyed doing more than hiking and geocaching and I definitely have not cut into family time. My year is almost up but I still have so many trails to hike, so many caches to find, and so many places to discover. I will just have to continue to include geocaching into a healthy lifestyle and to reach my ideal weight and fitness level.Share with your Friends:More Geocaching DietBy: Martin Pedersen
Role of Mobile App Analytics In-App Engagement Aaron Forth, VP of product for personal finance and budgeting service at Mint. com, talked at SXSW this week about the challenges the company faced when going mobile. As a service whose business model depends on people visiting the Mint.com website, the decision to launch a mobile application was not one the company took lightly, Forth said.But Mint did decide go mobile, launching first on iPhone, then on Android, after studying the actions of its mobile user base. And now, Mint is planning to launch a brand-new iPad application in just a few months – a prospect that has the company again rethinking its product for the tablet’s multitouch interface.Case Study: Mint Goes MobileMint says that the majority of its users have a phone connected their account with the service, and 20% are relying only on a mobile phone. Given those demographics, the company knew it wanted to serve the mobile audience with native applications.Forth then explained the thought process the company went through when creating its first mobile app (the iPhone version of Mint). The results make for an interesting case study which other developers may be able to learn from.Step 1: Pick Your Platforms CarefullyForth said that when it came to making a decision about what devices to launch its applications on, the first thing they looked at was device adoption trends. What devices have good market share?, they wanted to know. The answer was Android and iPhone and Android, each which have “massive distribution,” said Forth.Another important factor was whether or not the platforms they chose would have a way to get apps directly to consumers via an app store environment. Again, both iPhone and Android filled this need.Finally, they needed a platform where there was a good SDK available and developer support. In this area, Forth said Mint found that Apple’s strict guidelines didn’t interfere with development, but actually helped them understand very simply what they could and could not do. They didn’t have to figure out the phone, he said, they could just focus on development.Another key factor in the decision was finding a platform where there was low fragmentation. “It’s hard enough to support multiple browsers and versions,” said Forth. Mint wanted to find platforms that had a fragmentation strategy plan. Apple is great example of this, he said.Once the company decided what platforms it wanted to build apps for, it created some general goals. For example, the company decided it wanted to earn a top three position in the free finance category and it wanted to take advantage of specific platform features available to native apps, because that would make it more likely that platform maker would highlight the app within its store as a showcase example of its platform.Finally, Mint wanted to deliver on-the-go utility to its users, and make Mint easy to access. But most importantly, because Mint needed visitors to its website to earn revenue, it decided to build its mobile app as more of a companion to the site, instead of a standalone application. Step 2: Figure Out What’s TransferrableThe second question Mint needed to address was to figure out what’s reused versus what’s new when going from the Web app to mobile. “You basically tear down the idea of what your product is when you go mobile,” said Forth.On the “reused” side, there was only brand and positioning, the finance data and the user profile that was ported to the mobile app from the Web. Everything else was new. This included, of course, the UI itself – the interaction and visual design involving gesturing, a one-button interface on iPhone and the fact that there’s not a lot of typing involved when using mobile apps. It also included new security features where encrypted protocols were used to exchange data, plus the use of passcodes and more.Also new were to the company were the skills involved in the app’s creation (languages like Objective C and Cocoa), the different development environments used, the QA process and the authentication methods.Even the service layer and architecture was new, because the layer of APIs used for the earlier Mint Web app were different from ones that support the mobile app. On a phone, explained Forth, the app needs to be more efficient when delivering the payload of data to the device. It’s bursting data to you upon loading, instead of streaming data to you, like on the Web.Step 3: What is the End User Experience You Want?Finally, Mint wanted to focus on the user experience, keeping in mind that the mobile app will serve different needs than Web app, and its design needed to evolve in order to embrace device it runs on.Mint designed the app to focus on core jobs using simple screens: an overview screen, accounts screen, expenditures screen and budget screen.In a later version of app, Mint made it easier for new users to sign up for the service directly from the app itself. This was important to the company because Mint’s users with mobile phone are more engaged than the others. After 4 weeks, 20% of Mint’s new sign-ups were from mobile, said Forth. Mint Coming to iPad!Now Mint is developing its first iPad application, which again is forcing the company to redefine what its app is. The tablet form factor offers new possibilities, and new use cases, said Forth. Within the iPad app, some of its graphic libraries will be built in HTML5, for example, when previously on the Web, its graphics were built with Flex.It will also incorporate gesturing for things like categorizing transactions, which will work via drag-and-drop. Like its iPhone counterpart, the iPad app will be more similar to the iPhone than website, as there won’t be a deep, exhaustive set of menus. It will serve as a companion to the website as well.In the Q&A session at the end of the talk, an audience member asked why Mint didn’t launch on iPhone and Android at the same time. “In an ideal world, we would,” said Forth. But there were time constraints. Also, Mint’s developers were more comfortable and familiar with iOS, which made it easier to launch there first. If there is etiquette around when to launch on different platforms, we probably broke it, Forth said. The Rise and Rise of Mobile Payment Technology What it Takes to Build a Highly Secure FinTech … Tags:#apps#iPhone#mobile Related Posts Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces sarah perez
Art Production Fund (APF) is honored to announce that Co-Founders Doreen Remen and Yvonne Force Villareal have been awarded the 2014 Lennon Ono Grant for Peace for their public art program since 2000.A biennial award inaugurated by Yoko Ono in 2002 to honor the peace activism of John Lennon, the grant’s past recipients have included Doctors Without Borders, Pussy Riot, and The Centre for Constitutional Rights. APF will donate the entirety of the $52,000 grant to two urgent nonprofit organizations: Coalition for the Homeless’ First Step Training Program for Women and Spirituality for Kids.“We have long admired Yoko Ono as an artist and activist who has dedicated her life to promoting peace,” said Remen and Force Villareal. “Receiving this award is truly humbling and instills in both of us an even deeper desire to advocate for peace on a local and global scale.”“Our children are our future, and with raised consciousness and self-awareness, they will lead us to a world of peace and harmony,” said Doreen Remen. “Upon receiving news of the grant, I immediately wanted to share this privilege with Spirituality for Kids, a ground-breaking non-profit that provides children with the opportunity and tools to develop respect and care for themselves, others, and the world around them. It is through their individual thoughts and actions that global unity and peace will be achieved.”“As a mother, feminist, and career women, I am ecstatic to support the Coalition for the Homeless’ First Step Training Program for Women,” said Yvonne Force Villareal. “The program empowers these courageous women who deeply desire to create positive change in their lives, but lack resources and job training. Peace starts in a stable and safe home.”The Lennon Ono Grant For Peace was created as a way to promote peace, truth, and humanity in the world, and to help people who promote these values. This year’s awards were presented on October 9 (John Lennon’s birthday) in Reykjavik, Iceland, where Yoko Ono led ceremonies to commemorate her late husband. Ono illuminated the IMAGINE PEACE TOWER, a vast tower of light located on the island of Videy, which will remain lit until the day of Lennon’s death on December 8. Additional 2014 recipients include Rolling Stone’s Jann Wenner, Peace One Day’s Jeremy Gilley and Jon Gnarr, the former Mayor of Reykjavik.“I am very happy to honour [Art Production Fund] this year with the award that, for me, symbolises much of the work that John Lennon and I tried to do together and which I now continue to do.”The Coalition for the Homeless is the nation’s oldest advocacy and direct service organization helping homeless men, women and children. The First Step Job Training Program gives approximately 125 homeless and low-income women per year the computer training, literacy, life skills, mentoring, networking opportunities – and the self-confidence – needed to secure living-wage employment. First Step was designed to empower students to reach their full potential – emotionally and professionally – enabling them to thrive both in the workplace and in their personal lives.Founded in 2007, Spirituality for Kids is an 501c3 educational nonprofit organization that aims to deepen children’s sense of purpose in life, encourage them to reflect on their actions, see challenges as opportunities, and awaken their desire to make a difference in the world around them. Through engaging videos, animations, games, art activities, journaling and more, kids learn the “rules to the game of life”, which help them tap into their inner strengths, realizing that the power to overcome any challenge lies within them.
Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppProvidenciales, 24 Mar 2015 – Excellent local and regional support for the Anti-Money Laundering Conference hosted by the Attorney General’s Office, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. The two day event attracted award winning Diplomat and Attorney General for Trinidad and Tobago, Garvin Nicholas. AG Nicholas explained the Paris Conference held earlier this year has been the impetus for these caucuses around the region; and shared that he believes the Caribbean still has the opportunity for an edge as it follows these general expectations.“Well you make a very, very interesting point in your question and that is that we are different, we cannot be expected to do things in exactly the same ways the bigger countries do and I think it has already been generally accepted that the things the bigger countries have been doing have not necessarily been working because those pushing the regulations the most have been found wanting the most in terms of their own money laundering problems. I think the Risk-Based assessment would probably go a longer way in tailoring regulations to particular circumstances and I think we must be mindful of those particular circumstances and move forward in that direction.”We’ll have more next time; the conference wrapped up today and was held at the Regent Palms Resort. AG’s Office warns against false Registrar of Lands accusations Law enacted gives Governor and Planning Board more clout Related Items:anti-laudering, attorney general, Caribbean Financial Action Task Force Recommended for you Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApp Attorney General announces 14 Law Reforms for 2016
Dan Cohen AUTHOR Members of the House-Senate conference committee negotiating a compromise version of the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill are hoping to finish talks by next week.Many issues remain unresolved, but committee leaders are sufficiently optimistic that conferees will continue to makes steady progress that a vote by the House has been tentatively scheduled for July 24, reported CQ Roll Call.Committee members had been scheduled to meet at the subcommittee level last week to reconcile the two versions of the legislation, but those talks were cancelled due to floor votes. Those negotiations will continue this week. The conference’s aggressive schedule is intended to meet the goal of the chairmen of the Armed Service committees, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), for both chambers to vote on the final version of the legislation prior to the August recess.A looming veto threat from President Obama, though, means the bill still may be unsettled in the fall. Obama’s opposition primarily stems from the measure’s reliance on DOD’s war account to sidestep the Budget Control Act spending caps as well as its lack of language authorizing a new BRAC round.