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When Ashraf Ghani talks about world events, his words carry the weight of experience: After twenty-three years of exile from his native Afghanistan, he returned after the fall of the Taliban to serve as finance minister for the transitional government. A veteran of the World Bank and recently on the short list of finalists to head the United Nations, he continues working to rebuild societies torn asunder.
When Ghani came to my hometown of Portland, Oregon, recently to discuss his new book, Fixing Failed States: A Framework for Rebuilding a Fractured World, the audience was expecting a global perspective. Instead, he warmed up the crowd by explaining that he had spent a memorable year of high school just up the road as an exchange student in a Portland suburb. This was his first return to Oregon in forty-one years.
What’s more, Ghani credited that year at Lake Oswego High School with opening his eyes to the power of citizenship. Four decades later, he could still recall exactly how it felt to serve on the student council. “It was the first time I ever saw students entrusted to make decisions, to decide how money should be spent,” he said. “And we were held accountable for our decisions.” During that year, Ghani adds, he began to imagine how engaged citizens could fix a broken system. That bright vision has not dimmed.
In Afghanistan, Ghani and coauthor Clare Lockhart, cofounder and director of the Institute for State Effectiveness, have taken reconstruction efforts directly to thousands of villages. They have organized citizen meetings where villagers get to decide how to spend public funds. Many of these citizens are young: In Afghanistan, 65 percent of the population is under twenty-five. These young people are also connected — Ghani and Lockhart note that in rural areas, where illiteracy rates run high, they still routinely meet young people who are using technology to stay informed about world events.
Indeed, Ghani helped implement a new approach to telecom licensing that has vastly increased access to mobile phones across Afghanistan. Lockhart notes, “Even in remote villages, people know what’s happening in the world, and they know what they want.”
The Afghan community-engagement process creates “ownership and trust,” explains Lockhart. If it sounds like a glorified student-council meeting, Ghani makes no apologies. Once villagers can take part in decision making, he says, they tend to respond by saying, “Now I feel like a citizen.”
By coincidence, Ghani and Lockhart’s Portland visit coincided with the Oregon primary election. Both Democratic presidential candidates happened to be barnstorming the state on the same day the authors spoke. It was just the right scenario for thinking about how we can inspire today’s young people to become better-engaged citizens.
When the current generation of teens looks back on their high school years, will they be able to pinpoint a hands-on experience that shaped their vision of citizenship? Will they remember how and when they learned to become active participants in democracy?
The National Council for the Social Studies thinks of student governments as “laboratories in which students can learn and practice essential citizenship skills, respect for human dignity, and the value of the democratic process.” But only about one-third of U.S. ninth graders take part in these potentially powerful activities.
How are your students learning to become engaged citizens? Please share your ideas.
You're reading Becoming Citizens: A Stint In Student Government Can Shape One’s Future
POV: Student Government Can Be a Radical Force for Change Changes will legitimize the organization and help it better fight for students across campus
Student VoicesPOV: Student Government Can Be a Radical Force for Change Changes will legitimize the organization and help it better fight for students across campus
Last week, I stood in front of Boston University’s matriculating Class of 2026, and called upon our community’s incoming students to be radical. While much of my speech was dedicated to urging students to seize the moment and be the change they wish to see on campus, I also discussed our University’s radical past of student activism.
However, over the past few months, I and the newly elected Fight to BU administration have revived the radical fighting spirit our organization once embodied. Since taking office, my team and I have made dramatic changes to Student Government, both at structural and functional levels, to legitimize our organization and better fight for students across campus.Expanding influence and power
For the first time in decades, Boston University Student Government is taking on the task of proposing the budget distribution of the $2.3 million Community Service Fee (CSF) on behalf of the undergraduate student body. For those who don’t know, the CSF is a fee charged to all full-time undergraduate students and used to fund student activities, events, and campus programming. After spending the summer working with John Battaglino, assistant dean and Student Activities Office director, and Jason Campbell-Foster, University interim associate provost and dean of students, I will be obligating future Student Governments, through a constitutional amendment, to provide recommendations for the CSF distribution on a yearly basis, thus allowing students to have a direct say in the distribution of a multimillion-dollar fund that we finance. After all, the CSF is students’ money, and it deserves to be controlled by those who it rightfully belongs to.
Last, I have worked with the Campus Activities Board (CAB), a student organization that oversees the planning and execution of major events on campus, to collaboratively budget 33.25 percent of the CSF dedicated to event planning and campus programming. With this money, our events department, directed by Kiara Bennett (CAS’24), hopes to expand events and provide more student voices in major campus programming.Cabinet initiatives
Our environmental affairs department, spearheaded by Delaney Foster (CAS’24), has continued to execute a major tenet of the Fight to BU platform. As a major long-term project, Student Government hopes to partner with Generation Conscious, a hygiene and health equity initiative that ensures low-income university students access to sustainable laundry detergent. We are also partnering with Students for the United Nations, a community service organization under the Boston University International Affairs Association, for the annual Charles River cleanup. This will be taking place on Sunday, September 18, from noon to 2 pm.Outreach and engagement
Our Student Government is also working to increase visibility for all students in the BU community. As a form of expanding our outreach with marginalized communities, our engagement department, led by Dora Ambroise (Sargent’24), will be hosting a cultural organization brunch on Saturday, September 17, from noon to 2 pm, with the leadership of a diverse array of cultural student organizations. This event will allow us to better understand the unique issues facing different cultural groups on campus.
In collaboration with the engagement department, my executive board, including Laney Broussard (COM’24), vice president of internal affairs, and Lauren Kong (Sargent’25), vice president of finance, will also be holding information sessions on September 11, 12, and 15, for those interested in learning more about Student Government.Conclusion
While this POV may seem long-winded, it just scratches the surface of the passion, energy, and effort we have put in over these past few months to improve our organization. And while you may be skeptical, I can assure you that with myself and the Fight to BU team at the helm of Student Government, we will live up to the work of our predecessors and create transformative change on our campus.
So, here is my call to action. To administrators, if you want to bridge the gap between yourselves and the student body, we will fight for you. To faculty, if you want student mobilization and support behind an initiative, we will fight for you. To students, if you have an idea, initiative, or issue you feel strongly about, we will fight for you.
It’s time for the Boston University community to view their Student Government as what it’s meant to be: a radical force for change on campus.
Interested in learning how to become involved in Student Government? Attend an information session on Monday, September 12, at 7 pm, in PHO 201, or on Thursday, September 15, at 7 pm, in CAS B36.
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AIOps is imperative for government agencies endeavoring to match the expectation of their citizen stakeholders.
Given the pace at which new applications are changing the IT scene consistently, it is critical to deploy monitoring systems that ceaselessly track the business impact. It is here that AIOps can have any kind of effect, distinguishing the connections and moving to a predictive mentality that will drive the evolution of enterprise IT and the link between IT and business. Obviously, enterprise leaders know that! A few factors have met up to make way for AIOps. The progress to the cloud has made enterprise IT a convoluted recommendation exacerbated by a distributed and complex multi-cloud environment. Understanding connections and patterns can never again be completed simply through manual methods. Utilizing brilliant mathematics to make inferences and discover connections in real-time isn’t only a favorable position in this circumstance. It is a need. Federal government Security Operations Center (SOC) and Network Operations Center (NOC) teams are overpowered with tools. Handfuls, even hundreds are normal, which are intended to monitor and alert on different systems, applications, behaviors and different elements of the IT enterprise environment. This ordinarily prompts one of two situations: 1. Being overpowered with false positives which desensitize security faculty to authentic alarms, for example, the popular Target Stores breach, or 2. Not getting alerts to authentic concerns/breaks. Likewise, this additionally includes a complex learning curve and dreary upkeep of the most recent software, sensors, and incorporation prerequisites.Challenges
The challenge with existing tools is that they frequently neglect to “talk” to one another to share key information in light of a legitimate concern for the improved prediction, relationship, and resolution of occasions, for example, cyber threats and service disruptions. When they do “talk”, they are not doing as such in a manner that performs correlation fast enough, which means basic security issues might be found past the point of no return. Hence, federal agencies utilize scores of SOC/NOC experts who “remain inside their silos,” focused strictly on their own, individual monitoring solutions with no cross-correlating and analysis of the data produced by the tools. These experts frequently encourage an attitude of ownership, which now and again prompts possessiveness and not lending itself to different systems. This “heritage” security operation model can enormously profit by the implementation of processes that integrate machine learning, automation and analytics to expand the predictive value of the tools as an aggregate whole, along these lines picking up enterprise-wide IT visibility. Another challenge is the surge of big business, operational and mission-driven information that IT must manage, as different public-sector agencies incorporate complex datasets from various divisions and private partners. By utilizing AIOps, users can assemble a data model that sources information from different systems and definitive data sources to identify irregularities in the behavior of applications and IT foundation. Alerts will persistently screen the strength of the environment and diminish the noise by analyzing alert patterns to sift through false positives, empowering chiefs to prioritize where action needs to be taken. AIOps is promptly accessible to government customers through various agreement vehicles, including DISA ENCORE III, FAA eFast, GSA Schedule 70, Seaport-e, and the C5 Consortium Other Transaction Agreement (OTA). To position an agency for success here, we suggest these basic segments/steps: • Control and management of AIOps solutions and services and services in a multi-occupant climate with a coordinated exhibit of best-fit commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions. • Detail-driven project management wherein each action is started, planned and controlled to meet in general objectives within agreed-upon time and budget constraints • Framework integration that is verified before new capacities are implemented • Compliance with all security prerequisites and guidelines • Guidance sets and training plans for new features By producing increased efficiency and effectiveness through AIOps use cases, federal government CIOs can start to explore the value of smart IT activities to anticipate and forestall cyberattacks, process increasing call center volumes and manage IT operations information.
How to Crop Images in a Circle Shape with Photoshop
Tired of cropping your photos as rectangles and squares? Learn how easy it is to crop images as circles with Photoshop, and how to save the circle with a transparent background so the image looks great in a design or on the web! A step-by-step tutorial.
Download the PDF: Crop Images In A Circle
Written by Steve Patterson.
When cropping images in Photoshop, we usually think of rectangles or squares. That’s because the Crop Tool in Photoshop has no other options.
But who says we need to use the Crop Tool? Photoshop makes it just as easy to crop an image using a selection tool. And in this tutorial, I show you which selection tool you need to crop your image in a circle. You’ll learn the trick to drawing a selection as a perfect circle around your subject, and how to crop your image around the selection using a layer mask.
Then once we’ve cropped the image, I show you how to save it with a transparent background so you can place it onto any other background you like.
Here’s an example of what the image cropped in a circle will look like when we’re done, complete with transparent corners so the new background will show through.
The final result.
Let’s get started!
Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!Which version of Photoshop do I need?
I’m using Photoshop 2023 but any recent version will work. You can get the latest Photoshop version here.The document setup
You can follow along with any image. I’ll use this image from Adobe Stock:
The image that will be cropped in a circle.
Related: How to Crop a Single Layer in PhotoshopStep 1: Unlock the Background layer
In the Layers panel, the newly-opened image appears on the Background layer.
Photoshop’s Layers panel.
Before we can crop the image in a circle, the Background layer needs to be converted to a normal layer. That’s because the areas around the circle will need to be transparent and Background layers do not support transparency.
Photoshop renames the Background layer to Layer 0, the lock icon disappears, and we’re ready to crop the image into a circle.
The Background layer is now a normal layer.Step 2: Select the Elliptical Marquee Tool
To draw a selection as a circle around our subject, we need the Elliptical Marquee Tool which is found in the toolbar.
Selecting the Elliptical Marquee Tool.Step 3: Draw a circular selection outline around your subject
Don’t worry that it’s not a circle or that it’s not centered around your subject. We’ll fix both of these things next.
Drawing the initial elliptical selection outline.How to draw the selection as a perfect circle
To force the outline into a perfect circle, keep your mouse button held down and hold the Shift key on your keyboard.
Then continue dragging. You’ll now be drawing a circle.
Holding Shift forces the outline into a perfect circle.How to reposition the selection as you draw it
If the outline is not being drawn where you need it (not centered around your subject), keep your mouse button and the Shift key held down and add the spacebar.
Then drag to reposition the selection outline around your subject.
Holding the spacebar and dragging the outline into place.
Release the spacebar (but not your mouse button or the Shift key) once the outline is in place and continue dragging out the selection.
Releasing the spacebar to continue drawing the selection outline.
Once you’ve drawn the selection outline at the size you need, release your mouse button to complete it and then release your Shift key.
It’s very important that you release your mouse button first, then the Shift key, or the outline will snap back to a random elliptical shape and you’ll lose the perfect circle.
Completing the selection by releasing my mouse button, then the Shift key.Repositioning the outline after you draw it
If your selection outline is still not quite centered around your subject after you’ve released your mouse button, it’s not too late to move it.
Download this tutorial as a print-ready PDF!Step 4: Add a layer mask
Now that we’ve drawn the selection outline as a perfect circle around our subject, how do we use it to crop the image?
Well, we’re not going to crop it in the traditional sense. Instead, we’re going to hide everything outside the outline by converting the selection into a layer mask.
Everything outside the selection outline instantly disappears and is replaced with transparency (indicated by the checkerboard pattern).
The result after converting the selection outline to a layer mask.
Back in the Layers panel, we see the layer mask thumbnail that was added to the layer.
The white circle on the mask is where the image is still visible, and the black area surrounding it is where the image is hidden.
The layer mask thumbnail.Step 5: Trim away the transparent areas
All we need to do now is trim away the transparent area around the circle.
So go up to the Image menu in the Menu Bar and choose the Trim command.
Choosing Trim from the Image menu.
In the Trim dialog box, select Transparent Pixels at the top.
The Trim options.
And Photoshop trims away the empty space around the circle.
We still have some transparent areas in the corners of the document, and that’s because a Photoshop document is always rectangular or square. There’s no way to crop the document itself as a circle.
But that’s okay. We just need to make sure that when we save the image, we save it in a format that will keep the corners transparent so that whatever background we place the image onto will show through the transparency.
And that’s what we’ll do next as our final step.
The image is now cropped as a circle (with transparent corners).Step 6: Save the cropped image as a PNG file
Everything we’ve done up to this point will be for nothing if we lose the transparency in the corners when saving the image. Which means we need to choose a format that supports transparency.
The JPEG format does not support transparency so it won’t work. But the PNG format does support transparency, so that’s what we’ll use.
Go up to the File menu and choose Save As.
Choosing the Save As command from the File menu.
In the Save As dialog box, navigate to where you want to save the image. I’ll save mine to a folder on my Desktop.
The format we want to choose is PNG, which does support transparency.
Choosing the PNG file format from the list.
Give the file a name. I’ll name mine image-cropped-as-circle.png.
Naming the file before saving it.
Naming the file before saving it.
Your cropped image will be saved with the transparent corners still intact, ready to be placed onto any background you like.
Choosing the Smallest file size option.
And there we have it! That’s how to crop an image a circle in Photoshop.
Don’t forget, all of my Photoshop tutorials are now available to download as PDFs!
By co-developing classroom norms and practicing reflection and feedback, you create a culture where students want to be included because their voice matters.
When I attend yoga classes, the instructor guides participants through a series of poses. An outsider unfamiliar with yoga might think the class was instructor-directed, with everyone moving through poses as they are called out. The truth is that people add or subtract movements based on their comfort, drive, and current capabilities. (My favorite is Child’s Pose to catch my breath before rejoining the flow of movements.) This culture where participants shape the class along with the instructor is something I’ve found in every yoga class that I’ve attended.
Education culture can be just as powerful when students, like yoga class participants, are encouraged to help shape what and how learning takes place every day. It requires teachers to view what students can do alongside us. I already explored this in Student-Centered Learning: It Starts With the Teacher.
There are many tools for establishing a culture of student voice. Here are some that are easy to implement as you launch your students’ journey.
Develop Norms Together
Norms are something different from the classroom rules that are meant to establish order. Norms provide students and teacher with a shared understanding of how they can best support each other in the learning process. Norms are behavior guides that can help the teacher and the other students in mentoring classmates who struggle with following the norms.
Norms exist whether or not they are addressed. A common unspoken norm for students is that when a teacher asks a question, if no one responds in one to three seconds, the teacher will cajole the class or answer the question him- or herself. Or maybe Sam in the front of the room will answer the question as usual. Norms go underground if students are not included in forming them. Consider these steps for creating classroom norms:
1. Students reflect and share examples of environments that they feel were positive, such as a sports team, church or scouting group, or family ritual.
2. In small groups, students unpack the examples for the behaviors that made the experience or vibe positive.
3. Use Think-Pair-Share to create a list of positive behaviors that would support a learning environment where everyone feels successful and supported.
4. Use team builders to identify behaviors. After each team builder, students reflect and share what skills were needed to be successful at the task.
5. The class collectively reduces the list to 4-7 norms, framed in positive, student-friendly language. Some examples might include:
All voices need to be heard.
Talk after two. (Translation: Each person must wait until two others say something before they can speak again.)
Presume positive intent. (In student-friendly language: “Would you say that to your mother?”)
Here are helpful resources for further exploration:
Practice Reflection and Feedback
Coach and provide opportunities for students to reflect and give feedback about curriculum, classroom culture, and classroom systems. Spending time on reflection and feedback sends a signal about what’s valued in this academic setting. Students need airtime about how the classroom operates if we expect them to care. Once they do engage, their ideas should be implemented. Otherwise, student culture will go underground where no teacher authority can reach.
Here are strategies that promote student reflection and feedback. The key is having them share in the determination of topics as the focus.
Question Formulation Technique: Coach students on how to ask good questions and which to use depending on the circumstance and need. Use the Right Question Institute’s rich resources, or start with these these articles from Opening Paths.
Morning Meeting: Dialog provides a powerful voice for students reflecting on the current climate and needs. It’s also good for reviewing their shared experiences at the end of the day, or for celebrations and concerns. The experience is valuable for all ages.
Journaling: Writing reflections can be a tool for students to work through their thoughts and emotions before sharing a distillation to groups and/or the teacher.
Surveys: Individual and anonymous feedback enables students to give focused responses to classroom culture concerns. It’s important to give the class opportunities for reviewing and analyzing the results together. For quick turnarounds, use social media survey tools.
Protocols for Reflection and Feedback: There are many protocols that help students work on active listening and ensure that every voice gets airtime. Using protocols creates a safe environment for students to express their thoughts and suggestions in constructive and supportive language. Some examples to explore are:
Valued Culture = Student Engagement
Students value a classroom or school culture where they feel cared about. Ask any student, “Who did you have your favorite learning experiences with?” It’s always with a teacher about whom they’ll eventually say, “She believed in me,” or “He listened to us.” When students want to spend time in a classroom after school or during lunch, something positive is going on. Using the above strategies for norms, reflection, and feedback can help create a culture where students want to be included because their voice matters.
What firmly establishes a culture of student voice is giving them charge of how they learn, including development of assessments and products for learning outcomes (the focus of my next post). It’s similar to those yoga classes where participants craft their own movements that, while different from the instructor’s directions, achieve the common need of maintaining the breath and self-challenge. Teachers who co-create a culture of student voice are setting the foundation for students owning their own learning.
Quantum computing is a rapidly-emerged technology that channels the laws of quantum mechanics to solve complex problems, impossible for classical computers to encode. With time, the rise in quantum computers has overpowered traditional computers and has marked a milestone in the development of quantum computers.
However, some research institutes have predicted that the continuous rise of quantum supremacy will slowly and steadily overtake the blockchain space. Thus, to protect blockchain technology from quantum computing attacks, there was a need for quantum-safe blockchain technology.
Fortunately, the second quarter of 2023 witnessed the launch of Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL). It took two years of thorough development, several third-party audits, and the first enterprise-grade post-quantum secure blockchain with the XMSS signature scheme to launch QRL.
What is Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL)?
The Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL) is a complete quantum-resistant blockchain network. The former is a reliable blockchain platform secured by XMSS. XMSS is a NIST-approved, hash-based secure digital signature scheme, making the platform resistant to quantum attacks. A development ecosystem and a suite of applications complement the platform’s security.
There are numerous features attached to the QRL network delivering a utility-based platform for developers and users:
Secure digital assets:
The ledger provides safe digital assets to its users, avoiding current and emerging cryptographic threats. The suite of applications guarantees a range of options for the safe custody of QRL digital assets. The former also enables interactions with the public and private post-quantum secure blockchains built on the platform’s core protocol.
Post-quantum secure communications:
The ledger combines on-chain lattice key storage with its strong transitory messaging layer to internode communication. It is a first-of-its-kind post-quantum secure messaging layer for extremely secure virtual communications.
Broad integration and diverse ecosystem:
QRL delivers a strong integration accompanied by a pioneer in hardware digital assets storage solutions to its users. In addition, it has an open development infrastructure and audited and open-source cryptographic algorithms. The platform delivers a rich API experience for developers, making QRL a healthy-enterprise grade solution.
QRL is the first industrial implementation to utilize IETF-specified XMSS. The latter enables users to secure present and future attacks using quantum computers. XMSS is a hash-based, secure signature scheme with minimal security assumptions and reusable addresses in alignment with NIST approval.
The platform is built-in, with comprehensive tools, documentation, and a rich API, allowing the tools to build anything on an industrial-grade network for today and tomorrow. Features such as Quantum Resistant Token (QRT) support, on-chain message support, etc. result in QRL being a developer-friendly platform.
The platform is a full suite of products, designed keeping in mind the end-user. The former caters to numerous user demands, from integrations with hardware wallets to mobile applications. The download page of QRL has products for desktops, like Windows, Mac, and Linux, for mobile applications, including iOS and Android, and the web browser.
There are numerous IT sectors and operational technology systems based on public-key cryptography. Cryptographic algorithms are mathematical functions that transform data with the help of a key to protect information. QRL is a NIST(National Institute of Standards and Technology) approved quantum-secured cryptography.
The cryptography enables the platform to test post-quantum cryptography algorithms with their software. Moreover, it allows QRL to decide whether information security outweighs the efficiency losses ahead of a federally mandated transition. The NSIT approval helps QRL understand the impact of post-quantum cryptography on their network’s performance and behavior.
Quantum currency is the scientific alternative to cryptocurrencies. It aims to replace central banking and enable precise and consistent integrity of the movement of funds. Quantum Resistant Ledger combines blockchain technology and quantum currency and provides a tech-based financial solution for users.
Quantum currency enables QRL for efficient data analysis, high-security standards, and improved customer experience. The Ledger with quantum money has created a unique currency (QRL coins), impossible to clone, reproduce, or copy.
Red4sec, a business initiative formed by experts and security analysts with years of experience in cybersecurity, audits the QRL network. The rapid growth of technologies and outsourcing of services by various firms increase the risk appearance affecting the secrecy, integrity, and accessibility of information. Red4sec aims to provide information security solutions and protect organizations by reducing the risk caused by security vulnerabilities.
To undertake a secondary security audit, QRL signed an agreement with X41 D-Sec GmbH. The latter leverages some of the specific expertise at X41, covering the post-quantum cryptography portion of QRL. Besides, it helps platforms to handle vulnerabilities in products under development. Beyond identifying individual vulnerabilities, X41 shows ways to improve the product’s infrastructure in design and make it resilient even against future threats.
Quantum Resistant Ledger (QRL) marks the future of blockchain technology without any worry of quantum attacks. Broad integration, secure digital assets, and post-quantum secure communications make QRL a highly secure one-of-a-kind blockchain platform.
The QRL coin has a circulating supply of 76,403,154.90 QRL coins with a supply cap of 105,000,000 QRL coins. The project abides by its vision to provide users with similar features as Bitcoin and Ethereum while providing fairer mining processes, high security, and better staking algorithms. Quantum Resistant Ledger is a network that meets the needs of the present generation while addressing the demands of upcoming generations.
To know more about Quantum Resistant Ledger, please visit the official website.
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