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Four months after the Afghan government fell to the Taliban, 22-year-old Asad Asadullah had settled into a new routine. 

In his hometown in Afghanistan’s northern Samangan province, the former computer science student started and ended each day glued to his laptop screen. 

Since late October, Asadullah had been participating in a virtual coding bootcamp organized by Code Weekend, a volunteer-run community of Afghan tech enthusiasts, with content donated by Scrimba, a Norwegian company that offers online programming workshops. 

On some days, Asadullah took a screen break for a game of pickup soccer, but generally he didn’t see his friends that much anymore. Under the Taliban regime, “old friends are getting so depressed,” he explains, and there was only so much of that he could handle. Instead, he tells me, “my life is on my computer.” 

Asadullah is one of the millions of young Afghans whose lives, and plans for the future, were turned upside down when the Taliban recaptured Afghanistan last August. When the capital fell, Asadullah had two semesters of college left, and he was thinking about his post-graduation plans. He wasn’t picky about his first job; anything that let him save up some money would do. But he had bigger plans: Asadullah wanted to start his own software company and share his love of computer science by teaching university and high school students. “When I start coding, I can forget everything,” he says.

Today, those plans are on pause—and no one knows for how long. The country’s economy is in free fall, the United Nations warns of famine, and in the meantime, Afghanistan’s new rulers have offered little by way of solutions to its citizens.

In such dire circumstances, a coding bootcamp—a remnant of a brief period of techno-optimism in Afghanistan—may seem out of place. But for its participants, it offers hope of a better future—though whether such a future is still possible in Afghanistan remains to be seen. 

Virtual learning 

When the Taliban swept into power in August, it was unclear what their rule would mean for the Internet in Afghanistan. Would they cut off Internet access? Use social media posts—or government databases—to identify and target their former enemies? Continue to wage their own increasingly effective public affairs campaigns?  

As it turned out, the Taliban did not cut off access to the Internet—at least it has not yet. Instead, for those Afghan students who can afford the Internet at home—especially women and girls, whom the regime has officially banned from secondary and higher education—online learning has become one of the primary sources of education. 

Some of this is well organized, with encrypted virtual classrooms set up by international supporters, while some is entirely self-directed—learning through YouTube videos, perhaps, or playlists of TED talks. And often it falls somewhere in between, making use of free or discounted online learning platforms. 

Afghan women attend a 2018 event. Photo courtesy Code Weekend.

Code Weekend’s virtual bootcamp falls into this latter category. Seventy-five participants were accepted into the cohort and are working their way through Scrimba’s Frontend Developer Career Path, a series of 13 interactive video learning modules that cover everything from HTML and CSS basics to tips on handling job interview questions about JavaScript or GitHub.

Participants can complete the modules on their own time and in their own homes, with Code Weekend volunteer mentors checking in weekly to answer questions, ensure that they stay on track, and assist with logistics as needed—including providing Internet top-up to keep participants online. According to organizers, roughly 50 members of the original cohort are active. 

Ensuring Internet connectivity is just one of the logistical and financial challenges of running a bootcamp, even a virtual one, in Afghanistan. Another is contending with power outages, which become more frequent every winter. In an attempt to solve both these problems, Code Weekend has been trying to crowdfund the costs of 3G credit and backup electricity through generators and battery storage units. 

But there’s another issue that worries organizers: “what the Taliban think,” says

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By: Eileen Guo
Title: The Code Must Go On: An Afghan Coding Bootcamp Becomes a Lifeline Under Taliban Rule
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2021/12/30/1043133/afghanistan-coding-bootcamp/
Published Date: Thu, 30 Dec 2021 10:00:00 +0000

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LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys

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Bitso, a leading cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), today announced the joint launch of the first collectible NFT of the Mexico National Team’s jerseys that was acquired in cryptocurrencies.

This morning through their social media platforms, the FMF and Bitso announced the opportunity to acquire the new official National Team fan jerseys ahead of the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup. In just 20 minutes, the entire collection sold out.

bitsonftjeysey
The NFTs of the jerseys have an exclusive design for the metaverse – each is unique on the blockchain and can be resold by its owner in subsequent transactions.

The collection consisted of 100 official physical jerseys, each with a corresponding NFT version of the jersey that fans’ avatars can wear within the Decentraland metaverse. Each physical and NFT jersey set sold for the equivalent of $1,800 MXN in ethers.

“Our mission is to make cryptocurrency useful in the everyday life of Mexicans; we are committed to spreading the technology through innovative opportunities that help people throughout the country familiarize themselves with this new world. We are very excited to offer the incredible, historic opportunity for the fans of our National Team so that through their Bitso account, they can wear the colors of the National Team on and ‘off’ the field in the metaverse.”
– Bárbara González Briseño, General Director of Bitso México

Jersey NFTs

Created by Bitso, the virtual jersey sports the official colors of Mexico and the new National Team shield, characteristics that will make it stand out when users wear it in the virtual world of Decentraland.

The post LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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By: CryptoNinjas.net
Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/29/latam-crypto-exchange-bitso-and-fmf-launch-nft-of-mexicos-national-team-jerseys/
Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000

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Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth

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EXMO, a crypto exchange platform operating since 2014, announced this week a rebranded visual identity with includes a new logo, brand colors, and design features. This new branding comes as EXMO continues to grow its crypto platform while also seeking to expand its presence in other jurisdictions.

Some new developments underway at EXMO:

Soon, users will be able to earn passive income from EXMO’s new staking platform.Plans to launch an EXMO crypto debit card.Expansion of its services in international markets with the opening of offices in Poland and Lithuania.

EXMO’s new logo

The rationale for the re-brand:

“At EXMO, we have a vision of a world where crypto is in every wallet. Hassle-free. We want to achieve this by making crypto as simple and accessible to everyone as possible. And we know that you already appreciate EXMO for offering user-friendly services and helpful support. Also for the opportunity to trade anywhere and anytime, closing deals in just a few taps. Such important changes required a rethinking of our corporate style, which has long needed a massive upgrade. So today we are introducing a new brand identity for EXMO with a completely new visual concept. We are launching a new logo, brand colors, and design elements. Our key design principles are simplicity, boldness, and a pinch of fun. But most importantly, we have changed our logo. Simple and easily recognizable, it represents the humanity of our brand. The logo stands out due to the wavy letter ‘m’ which symbolizes exchange rate charts and also resembles a spring that will launch you into the crypto world.”
– The EXMO Team regarding the re-branding

The post Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth appeared first on CryptoNinjas.

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By: CryptoNinjas.net
Title: Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/26/long-running-crypto-exchange-exmo-unveils-lively-rebrand-amidst-growth/
Published Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:10:38 +0000

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Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens

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The blistering heat waves that set temperature records across much of the US in recent days have strained electricity systems, threatening to knock out power in vulnerable regions of the country. 

The electricity has largely stayed online so far this summer, but there have been scattered problems and close calls already. 

Heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners is the biggest problem. But intense heat can also reduce the output of power plants, blow transformers, and force power lines to sag. Severe droughts across large parts of the country have also significantly reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). 

It’s unlikely to get better soon. A number of grid operators may struggle to meet peak summer demand, creating the risk of rolling blackouts, the NERC report notes.

The nation’s isolated and antiquated grids are in desperate need of upgrades to keep the lights, heat, and air-conditioning on in the midst of extreme weather events that climate change is making more common, severe, and dangerous. One clear way to ease many of these issues is to more tightly integrate the country’s regional grids, stitching them together with more long-range transmission lines. 

If electricity generated in one area can be more easily shared across much wider regions, power can simply flow to where it’s needed at those moments when customers crank up air-conditioners en masse, or when power plants or fuel supply lines fail amid soaring temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes, or other events, says Liza Reed, a research manager focused on transmission at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, DC, think tank.  

The problem is it’s proved difficult to build more long-range transmission and grid interconnections for a variety of reasons, including the permitting challenges of erecting wires through private and public lands across cities, counties, and states and the reluctance of local authorities to forfeit control or submit to greater federal oversight.

The case of Texas

The unreliability of the US grid is not a new problem. Severe heat and winter storms have repeatedly exposed the frailty of electricity systems in recent years, leaving thousands to millions of people without power as temperatures spiked or plunged.

One of the fundamental challenges is that the grids today are highly fragmented. There are three main electricity networks within the US: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). But there are numerous regional transmission organizations within those first two systems, including the California Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection, New York ISO, and more. 

These grids form a complex web of networks operating under different regulators, rules and market structures, and often with limited connections between them.

Map USA grid
A variety of regional transmission organizations oversee different parts of the nation’s aging and fragmented grids, which operate under different rules and with often limited connections between them.
legend

ERCOT is especially isolated, in part because of the desire among local politicians, citizens, and power companies to avoid added competition, the hassle of following other states’ rules, and oversight from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But the state offers a case study in why that can be a serious problem amid increasingly harsh climate conditions, Reed says.

The Texas grid operator pleaded with customers several times earlier this month to cut electricity use as blistering summer temperatures created  demand surges that threatened to outstrip supply and require rolling blackouts.  Low wind conditions, cloud cover, and outages at fossil-fuel power plants added to the strains.

Shutting off the electricity needed to run air-conditioning in triple-digit temperatures

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By: James Temple
Title: Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/07/28/1056483/stitching-together-the-grid-will-save-lives-as-extreme-weather-worsens/
Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000

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