Jul 27, 2015

The Content Corner: Supporting Your Content

Magnifying glass over the word content in white text.

Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock

This column revolves mostly around content creation and strategy, but an overlooked part of the content lifecycle is helping people find your content. Your content is made to be seen and without planning for promotion, it may never be found. The methods available to you may vary (wildly) at your agency, so remember your mileage may vary.

So Many Options

Within the U.S. Courts, a plan is indispenable just to navigate the myriad communication options available, both “print” and digital (I use print in quotes because generally these days a print layout will only be presented in PDF form).

These print options typically include a wide number of newsletters that are circulated on a monthly or bi-monthly or quarterly or whenever-we-get-around-to-it basis. Based on experience, newsletter audiences can be narrowly defined not only by agency or office, but also by areas of expertise such as human resources. If your content is of specific interest to an audience, ask around and see if they have a newsletter and how often it actually gets delivered.

Deadlines and Word Limits

Calendar on tablet computer


Delivery is important, but many communications have their own editorial calendar and schedule (and many times it may be a complete mystery to the entire agency). It may take preparation on your part or a quick turnaround of an article or blurb to meet another publication’s deadline.

Most also have a word limit due to space and layouts. These word counts can be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether they require more or less writing. For example, you already have a 250 word summary ready, but the publication you want to be featured in requires any submission to be at least 500 words. Who is going to double the size of that summary, and how soon can it be done? Any time you are dealing with time and space limits, talk to whoever is in charge of editorial and get these deadlines into your plan as quickly as possible.

Time and Space

Any agency with workers distributed across the country also has to consider both time and space when promoting certain location-specific events. The content you generate needs to take this into consideration especially if you are asking for registration (Web or in-person). You may need to plan for the creation of additional content that is customized for various audiences, such as promoting different aspects of a single piece of content to different constituencies. This takes additional time to identify all the various audiences and then determine how to craft content that might resonate.

For a recent Knowledge Seminar, we needed to create two complete sets of content based upon whether the audience was located in Washington, D.C., or throughout the rest of the country. One set of content focused on encouraging staff to attend the event live, while the other encouraged signing up for a live stream of the event. Two sets of Web pages, two emails, two distinct call-to-action requests were needed for one event. We also had to balance concerns about having the live stream option cannibalize our live audience (bodies in chairs are still an important indicator of a program’s success).

In time, we may be able to leverage APIs and geolocation (as the USDA and other agencies have with mobile apps) to help limit the content creation overhead. But for now, this is another aspect of the planning involved when promoting location-specific content events.

Timing Could Be Everything

Advanced planning is also a great way to respond to and address any particular promotion of your content that might need to be done “out of cycle.” Most government agencies have specific routines and schedules for communications. In my experience, several communication channels also involve a lengthy approval process that can at times seem akin to a Japanese game show. I try and leave myself 3 -4 weeks of slack, especially dealing with communications that will require director-level approval. Sometimes even more time is required, depending on travel schedules or other communications that are already in the queue.

Crowd scene at beach and boardwalk

Edan Cohen

One of the most important things to do is reach out to those in your agency who will know and control the timing of these communications so you can plan it into your schedule. Commonly, these functions are handled by your public affairs office. If you don’t already have a good working relationship with your public affairs office, I strongly suggest you cultivate one. As someone who works outside my public affairs office but on similar projects, having that strong rapport is frequently critical to the success of our content promotion efforts.

I also prefer to increase the messaging and promotion depending on whether the content is time-sensitive, such as for an event or a trending topic. While being careful to not go beyond the bounds of good email etiquette, gentle reminder emails or the promotion of complementary content can actually be appreciated by the audience and enhance their experience.

Help Them Help You

One of the more effective things you can do to support the content you post is to help people that have found your content find more of the same in the future. That is a really complicated way to describe email subscriptions, but email remains a very effective communication tool.

As with many other agencies, we leverage email by adding subscription boxes or links within our content. The hope is that the user liked what they came to read so much that they want to get more of it in the future.

The second part of this method involves making communication to these interested subscribers a regular part of your content production process as well. But don’t violate what I think of as the pact you agree to when they sign up:

  • Don’t give them things they don’t want
  • Don’t email them too much
  • Keep the content close to the original content and what they expect

Don’t Forget Social Media

NIH NCCIH Age Well Twitter Chat from April 29, 2015Since the early days of Web pages and content, it was very clear that the “build it and they will come” strategy never worked. You have to use the various tools available at your agency, and beyond, to help as many people as possible find your content.

These tools also include social media, especially when considering external or public content. DigitalGov has great resources on social media promotion and using it to increase awareness of your content. The success of an NIH healthy aging Twitter chat is a great example of leveraging the power of social media to promote a topic and your relevant content.

Just as with developing an editorial calendar and using content pillars, you should also have a plan in place to support new content, especially if it is event-driven or time-sensitive.

You’ve just finished reading the latest article from our Monday column, The Content Corner. This column focuses on helping solve the main content issues facing federal digital professionals, including producing enough content and making that content engaging.

by Tyrus Manuel via DigitalGov

A fitful of dollars: Canadian dollar to skid lower, possibly to 74¢ - The ...

A fitful of dollars: Canadian dollar to skid lower, possibly to 74¢ - The ...
The Globe and Mail - 4 hours ago
“Instead, we think the Street is simply underestimating how much more room USDCAD has to run higher in an environment of weak Canadian growth and divergent monetary policy,” she said in a report, referring to the U.S. dollar versus the loonie by their ...

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A fitful of dollars: Canadian dollar to skid lower, possibly to 74¢ - The ...

Scaling and Load Balancing WildFly on OpenShift v3 With Fabric8

By unknown

Did you enjoy the first ride with Fabric8 and OpenShift v3? There’s more a lot more to come. After we got the first WildFly container up and running on Kubernetes, without having to deal with all it’s inherent complexity, I think it is about time to start to scale and load balance WildFly.

Make sure, you have the complete Vagrant, Fabric8, OpenShift v3, Kubernetes environment running. I walked you No matter how often you hit refresh at this point, there is never going to be another pod id in this response. Of course not, we’re only running one instance until now. Let’s switch to the Fabric 8 console and scale up the pods. Switch to the “Apps” tab and click on the little green icon on the lower right to your application. In the overlay change the number of pods from one to three.

After a while, the change is reflected in your console and the pods go from downloading to green in a couple of seconds

Let’s go back to our web-interface and hit refresh a couple of times. Nothing changes? What happened? What is wrong? Let me walk you through the architecture a little:

Overall Architecture
Did yesterdays blog post left your wondering? How did all the parts work together? Here’s a little better overview for you. Spoiler alert: This is overly simplifying the OpenShift architecture. Please dig into the details on your own. I just want to give you a very focused view on scaling and load balancing with Fabric8 and OpenShift.

Everything relies on the OpenShift routing and management of the individual pods. Ports are exposed by containers and mapped through services. And this goes back to back from client to the running instance. And the central component, which does the routing is the HAProxy obviously. Which is a normal pod with one little exception: It has a public IP address. Let’s see, what this thing does on OpenShift and how it is configured.

HAProxy As Standard Router On OpenShift
The default router implementation on OpenShift is HAProxy. It uses sticky sessions based on http-keep-alive. In addition, the router plug-in provides the service name and namespace to the underlying implementation. This can be used for more advanced configuration such as implementing stick-tables that synchronize between a set of peers.
The HAProxy router exposes a web listener for the HAProxy statistics. You can view the statistics in our example, by accessing http://vagrant.f8:1936/. It’s a little tricky to find out the administrator password. This password and port are configured during the router installation, but they can be found by viewing the haproxy.conf file on the container. All you need find out is the pod, log-in to it, find the configuration file and read the password. In my case it was “6AtZV43YUk”.

oc get pods
oc exec -it -p <POD_ID> bash
less haproxy.config

Now, that we found out about this, things got clearer. Once, we have an open connection to one of our instances, this is not going to be released again in the standard configuration. But we can check that the routes are in place by looking at the statistics.

And if you really want to see, that it actually does work, you need to trick out the stickiness with a little curl magic. If you have Mysysgit installed on Windows, you can run the little batch script in my repository. It curl’s a REST endpoint which puts out the POD ID which is serving the request:


The first five requests always return the same POD ID until the new PODs come up and the HAProxy starts to dispatch the requests round-robin. If you want to influence this behavior, you can do this. Just read more about administration of the router in the OpenShift Administration documentation. And here is a complete reference about the “oc” command line interface. If you need some ideas how to use the oc client to find out about different objects and types, there is a complete set of batch scripts in the fabric8/bin folder on github.

It’s about time to diver deeper into the developer tooling of Fabric8. Stay curious for more details in the next blog posts.

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Easy Digital Downloads: Style Settings

Rich kids are at a disadvantage, says billionaire – Business Insider

Billionaire private equity chief David Rubenstein, the cofounder of Carlyle Group, explained on “Wall Street Week” on Sunday how growing up wealthy

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Create a Custom Payment Method Module in Magento: Part Two

Canadian dollar up slightly ahead of TSX opening - Times Colonist

Canadian dollar up slightly ahead of TSX opening - Times Colonist
Times Colonist - 1 minute ago
The Canadian dollar was trading at 76.79 cents US on Monday morning, up 0.07 from Friday. Photograph By Frank Gunn, The Canadian Press.

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Canadian dollar up slightly ahead of TSX opening - Times Colonist

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Launching Your First App

App development is difficult. Successful app launching is nearly impossible, especially given the millions of apps competing for your users’ attention.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the topic of launching apps. But I’m glad for the opportunity to share a few of the tips and tricks I learned while launching my first few applications for iOS and OS X.


The app I’m going to be referencing is my latest project, GA.TODAY — a simple Google Analytics widget.

GA.Today on Mac laptop.

I decided to build GA.TODAY after becoming frustrated with the lack of existing tools when it came to tracking multiple Google Analytics profiles. Which brings me to my first point…

Your First App Should Be Something You Care About

I’m going to be brutally honest: The possibility that your first app is a wild success is almost nonexistent.

It’s not that your first app is a bad idea, or that you’re an incompetent designer or developer. It’s just that your first attempt at anything you do will typically have less-than-spectacular results. Launching a complex piece of software onto an over-saturated market is no exception.

Because of these odds, I believe it’s especially important that your first app is something you’re personally motivated to build. Something that solves a problem you have. You have to own it and deeply care about it.

If you aren’t personally excited and interested in what you’re building, then every tiny little speed bump will kill your motivation to finish.

Take, for example, early bugs found by Beta testers (I’ll talk more about getting Beta testers later).

When someone reports a bug, you can react one of two ways.

The first way to react is you take the bug report personally. You realize that somebody spent their time using your product. A product you’re passionately building and personally invested in. The beta tester encountered a completely unacceptable user experience and your immediate reaction to the situation is it must be fixed ASAP because you care a lot about the quality of your work.

The second way to react is that you ignore the issue. You pass it off as something "only this one guy ran into" and put the bug report on a long list of things you probably won’t get around to. This is what can happen if you’re building something you aren’t personally invested in. For your first app, where bugs and minor UX issues are common, this attitude becomes a serious problem.

Working on something you care deeply about is a big advantage.

Once you’ve done it a few times and can avoid the many minor issues you encounter when launching an app, then building something for somebody else or building something to maximize profit becomes much easier to do.

But for your first app, think about something you’re truly passionate about.

Get Beta Users You Don’t Know

Getting your friends to test and use your first app isn’t a good idea. They’re not likely to say something negative because they don’t want to discourage you from what you’re doing. So all you’ll get is positive praise, which can be devastating because it might not be representative of reality.

On the other hand, getting the angry hordes of Reddit to test your app is a whole other world of pain. But the level of refinement anonymous critical Beta testers will offer your app is incredibly valuable.

How do you get pre-release/Beta users? It’s surprisingly easy:

Build a Landing Page for your App. Now.

If you don’t have one yet, building a landing page for your app should be a top priority. It’s gotten so incredibly easy these days to build one that there are quite literally no excuses for not having a landing page for your app.

I personally used Ghost. I use MailChimp to capture and manage email signups. I would also suggest looking into Launchrock and Unbounce.

GA.TODAY's landing page.

Your basic goal for your app’s landing page is to pitch the non-existent product, and to ask users to give you their email address to get access to pre-release versions of your app.

A benefit of getting a landing page up early is it will really help your long-term SEO. If you want to have any kind of success in the long run, you need to start this stuff early.

Get the Word Out

Getting the word out is especially hard for your first app.

If you’re like me, you probably won’t have any followers on Twitter and you have few — if any — connections to bloggers or well-known people.

It’s hard to promote your first app. But it’s not impossible.

Social News Sites

I found Reddit, Hacker News and Lobste.rs to be great communities to bootstrap your Beta testers list.

You have to be really careful that you aren’t spamming these communities (which is a great way to completely sabotage your app) but if you do things right you can usually get a good group of early adopters that are technical, critical and engaged.

No matter where you’re posting, make sure you’re as engaged and helpful as you can be. Check for and respond to any and all comments or replies you get. Take feedback to heart and view comments as honest and relevant opinions, even if it means a lot of extra work on your side.

It’s also very important that you measure conversion rates (percentage of signups) from each "campaign" or referral source. This will help you determine the groups of people who find your app useful, which in turn helps you fine-tune your marketing strategy once your app is actually live and ready for the world.

I’d recommend you shoot for a 5-10% average signup rate. If it’s much lower, try tuning your landing page. Make sure your landing page clearly states the value proposition of the app and how the app solves a problem.

If you have sources that are giving you higher-conversion rates (15-20%), try to figure out why and then focus on finding more user sources like that.

Launching on Reddit

For Reddit, start by looking for a subreddit (category) that is relevant to your product. For me, this was r/analytics, r/productivity and r/technology.

App launch on Reddit

I just posted simple links to my landing page with descriptions like "Looking for Beta users for my Google Analytics widget for iOS" and "Free Google Analytics widget for iOS (Beta)".

Launching on Hacker News

The standard for posting your own work on Hacker News is to do it rarely.

Also, it’s good etiquette to make it clear that you’re posting your own work by prefixing your post with "Show HN: ".

Show HN launch

This informs Hacker News readers that you are posting something you made. It also hints that you’re looking for feedback.

Like Reddit, I just posted links to my signup with a short description like "Quick access to Google Analytics via an iOS widget".

Blogs and Review Sites

Another way to get Beta users is to start submitting your app to review sites and relevant blogs. This not only gets you critical Beta users, but could help you get some traffic and visibility once you launch to the public.

This method requires more legwork on your side, but tends to pay off in the long-run.

Start by Googling for relevant blogs (for me, "Google Analytics tools") and contacting the writers directly via email if you can. Offer them a free version of your app in return for feedback and — if they are open to it — a review or post on their site. Even one or two of these will have a major impact on your visibility and your long-term SEO, which is incredibly valuable.

How Many is Enough?

I would say to try to get a list of 100 pre-release users. You definitely want more than 10, but getting more than 100 people to give you — an unknown, random internet person — their email address based solely on the promise of an unfinished app is really hard to do.

If you get thousands, you’re definitely onto something massive. Lucky you!

If you get hundreds, you’re still onto something, but probably something average. It’s probably not the next Instagram or Snapchat or whatever. But that’s okay. Maybe the second app will be.

Iterate. Wait. Iterate. Wait. Repeat.

For me, this is by far the most painful and difficult part of the process. I’m always desperate to launch an app and begin rolling in the dough as my brand new app launches to the top of every country’s app chart.

Don’t fall to the temptation.

A refined, bug-free version 1.0 is your best option. Despite the strong desire to launch, spending the time to ensure that you’ve squished all the major bugs and solved all the UX problems raised by your pre-release users is absolutely worth it.

Launching a buggy first version is a great way to get negative reviews right out of the gate, which can absolutely crush your app’s chances of success, no matter how great the idea is.

You’re unlikely to get a flood of reviews, so you want every single one to be a positive 5-star review, especially early on.

tl;dr: Wait to launch until you can’t wait any longer. Then wait just a bit more.

Measure Everything. Just Like Everyone Says To.

Here are some things you need to measure, especially during your beta, but also after you release:

  1. User signups
  2. Usage of critical features
  3. User retention
  4. App crashes (with enough information to make fixing things possible)

It doesn’t matter how you monitor these, but you need to monitor them. I highly recommend a properly configured Google Analytics to track new user signups, user retention and conversions. I use Fabric.io to track the number of times the app crashes.

Make sure that whatever analytics tool you’re using is correctly configured, so you know what your users are doing and how often they are performing critical actions in your app.

Not tracking these four critical app metrics properly is like trying to shoot a three-pointer without looking: It’s possible you’ll make the basket, but statistically less likely than with your eyes open. You need to know if your marketing campaign is successful or if that bug you thought you fixed is really fixed.

Measure everything.

Email Your Users

One last thing I’d add is to seek permission to email your users when they sign up. Being able to email your users is a very powerful advantage.

Not everyone will opt in to your emails — and those that do will be very wary of anything that looks like spam. But a good email strategy is a great avenue for soliciting feedback and notifying your users of changes to your app.

I did this with GA.TODAY by integrating MailChimp’s basic list API and it really helped me get very specific and relevant feedback from my users.

Related Content

Ryan Brink is a software developer at LiveQoS, a mobile/Web developer, an entrepreneur, and a musician. He’s based in Canada. His latest project is GA.TODAY – a Google Analytics widget for iOS and OS X. Visit his personal site and connect with him on Twitter, GitHub and Dribbble.

The post Launching Your First App appeared first on Six Revisions.

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Jul 26, 2015

Red Hat JBoss Fuse – Getting Started Home Loan Demo version 6.2 Part 1

By Christina Lin

This is a update to my existing demo for people that are getting started to know Fuse, and wants to get their hands dirty and develop a JBoss Fuse project for the first time.

There will be a series of blogs with video coming after this one, it is focus on playing with the integration framework in JBoss Fuse, which base on the open source project Apache Camel. And in the last video of the series I will deploy the integration projects onto the OSGi container and manage it with Fuse Fabric.

The story behind the home loan demo is to prepare housing appraisals base on the content given real estate vendor. The appraisal needs to talk to local database, external google map API and also provide information through a web Restful API.

For those of you have been following my work may know, I have made some changes to the demo, the old demo has place all integration functions in a single project and deploy on single container. But when I started to maintain, because it’s been a while from when I developed this project, took me sometime to remember and figure what which part of the application was doing what. Then I started to think it’s a better idea if I break it down into separate project, each handles single functions. Now the architecture of this integration project is broken down into 4 separate independent projects and then deploy to containers distributed in the fabric. Using messaging broker as the medium between these distributed integration parts.

In part one, we will start taking in XML files from different vendor’s home loan application, they will place their customer input into a directory listening by JBoss Fuse. The XML files are in 2 different formats, one with it’s customer data, the other contains housing details. Both files will be place into same folder either by FTP or Batch generated overnight.

To begin, make sure you have download the JBoss Developer Studio to follow along the video:

In this demo, you will learn

File Endpoint
Which provides access to file systems, allowing files to be processed by any other Apache Camel Components or messages from other components to be saved to disk.

Content Base Routing
From the EIP patterns allows you to route messages to the correct destination based on the contents of the message exchanges.

xPath Expression
Allow an Expression or Predicate to be used by parsing in the DSL or Xml Configuration.

Set up the activemq for messaging broker.
The ActiveMQ component allows messages to be sent to a JMS Queue or Topic; or messages to be consumed from a JMS Queue or Topic using Apache ActiveMQ.

<bean id=“activemq” class=“org.apache.activemq.camel.component.ActiveMQComponent”>
<property name=“brokerURL” value=“tcp://localhost:61616″/>
<property name=“userName” value=“admin”/>
<property name=“password” value=“admin”/>

Hope you find this useful. The source code of the entire project can be found here:

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[session] Past, Present & Future of Container Deployment By @BCantrill | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

Unbeknownst to some, organizations have run infrastructure containers in production for years, reaping benefits on the operational end but not yet providing value for developers. When Docker catapulted containers into mainstream adoption, another type of container emerged — one that’s enormously popular for developers, but not quite ready for Ops. It’s time to close the gap between the promise that Devs see in containers and the operational challenges of actually running them in production. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bryan Cantrill, CTO at Joyent, will demonstrate a third path: containers on multi-tenant bare metal that maximizes performance, security, and networking connectivity.

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[session] DevOps State of Mind By @RedHatNews | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #PaaS #Jenkins #Kubernetes #Docker

Rapid innovation, changing business landscapes, and new IT demands force businesses to make changes quickly. The DevOps approach is a way to increase business agility through collaboration, communication, and integration across different teams in the IT organization. In his session at DevOps Summit, Chris Van Tuin, Chief Technologist for the Western US at Red Hat, will discuss: The acceleration of application delivery for the business with DevOps

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What Are You Working On?

We all have something going on.

Perhaps it’s a web development project. Maybe you’re teaching yourself PHP/Sass/React or how to design with Sketch. Are you working on launching your blog or ebook? Job-hunting? It might even be a self-improvement project like fitness, learning a new hobby or being a better spouse/significant other/parent.

In this open thread, let’s talk about the project we’re working on right now.

Share your response in the comments.

Open Thread: What Are You Working On?

Talking Points

  • Tell us about your project. Why did you decide to do it? How’s your progress so far?
  • What lessons have you learned while working on your project? What issues/pain-points have you encountered?
  • Do you have a side/personal project? Why did you decide to work on it? Does it complement your "real work"?
  • Show us your project. You can post screenshots and photos in the comments using an <img> tag.

(This open thread closes on July 31.)

The post What Are You Working On? appeared first on Six Revisions.

US based millionaire hotelier Baldev Singh rejects idea of Khalistan

Former deputy speaker of Punjab Vidhan Sabha Baldev Singh (78) wants Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to focus on Punjab and make their foreign visits …

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Jul 25, 2015

‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad’ author Robert Kiyosaki shares money advice | The Seattle Times

Kiyosaki built his Rich Dad Poor Dad empire on the shoulders of his 1997 book by the same name. It is estimated the investor, speaker, consultant and …

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Ann Patton, John Bender: ’48 Hours’ Updates Case Of American Millionaire Who Was Found Dead …

John Bender was an American millionaire who was found dead in his jungle home located in the deepest part of Central America’s rainforest.

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Sask.’s newest millionaire bought winning lottery ticket in Midale

A man from Midale, Sask. is $2 million richer this month thanks, in part, to some advice he got. Saskatchewan Lotteries / Supplied …

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Millionaire matchmaker Louanne Ward explains how she helps Perth’s elite find love

LOUANNE Ward was just 21 years old when she made her first match. She was working as a booking agent at a matchmaking agency in Perth, one of …

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Nansian: Dorod Orad has rich pickings in tourism – BorneoPost Online | Borneo , Malaysia …

BAU: Dorod Orad or Mount Orad, described as a fortress for Bidayuh Bratak warrior Panglima Kurow above Kampung Grogo near here, will be …

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Running WildFly on Kubernetes. On Windows. Fabric8!

By unknown

Have you ever dreamed about running WildFly on OpenShift and leverage the latest Kubernetes features: On Windows? Sounds like blasphemy: Everything about those technologies is screaming GO and Linux. Windows doesn’t seem to be the right fit. But I know, that there are many developers out there, being stuck on Windows. Corporate laptops, easy management and whatever reasons the different employers come up with. The good news is, there is a small and brave group of people, who won’t let those Windows users down. And I have to admit, that running a Windows operating system while working for Red Hat is a challenge.
We’re a Linux company and an open source company and everything Windows simply feels wrong.
As my fellow colleague Grant stated in a blog-post a couple of weeks ago:
“That being said, I have decided to use Windows as my primary operating system in order to ensure that OpenShift has a great developer experience for Windows users. “
So, I tried to get Kubernetes and OpenShift running on Windows for a while, natively not possible right now. On the other hand, I really want to get my hand on latest developments and look into fancy stuff. But there is a solution: Vagrant and Fabric8.
And Fabric8 only because, I am a Java developer. In fact if you are a Java developer wanting to work with Kubernetes Fabric8 really is the easiest and quickest way to get going. So, let’s setup OpenShift and Fabric8 on a Windows machine.

Download and install Vagrant (don’t worry, it’s MIT licensesed). Done with that? Restart your machine (You know, why it’s Windows.) You will need to install an additional Vagrant plugin. Switch to a cmd line and type:

$vagrant plugin install vagrant-hostmanager-fabric8

Vagrant-hostmanager is a Fabric8 Vagrant 1.1+ plugin that manages the /etc/hosts file on guest machines (and optionally the host). Its goal is to enable resolution of multi-machine environments deployed with a cloud provider where IP addresses are not known in advance.
The only other thing you need to have installed and ready is VirtualBox (GPL licensed!)
Go and clone the Fabric8 installer git repository and cd into the openshift/latest folder:

$ git clone https://github.com/fabric8io/fabric8-installer.git
$ cd fabric8-installer/vagrant/openshift/latest

The next steps are needed for proper routing from the host to OpenShift services which are exposed via routes. Unfortunately for Windows no automatic routing for new services is possible.
You have to add new routes manually to %WINDIR%System32driversetchosts.
For your convenience, a set of routes for default Fabric8 applications will be pre-added when you start up vagrant
For new services look for the following line and add your new routes (.vagrant.f8) to this file on a new line like this:

## vagrant-hostmanager-start id: 9a4ba3f3-f5e4-4ad4-9e80-b4045c6cf2fc vagrant.f8 fabric8.vagrant.f8 jenkins.vagrant.f8 ..... myfear-wildfly-test.vagrant.f8
## vagrant-hostmanager-end

Now startup the Vagrant VM:

vagrant up

If you want to tweak the settings for the vm you have to edit the Vagrantfile. The startup including downloads takes a couple of minutes (Good time for #coffee++). While you’re waiting, jump ahead and install the OpenShift client for windows. Download the one for your os from the origin project on github. The windows build has 55 MB. Next is to unpack it into a folder of your choice. Make sure
to add this folder to your PATH environment variable.

set PATH=%PATH%;"D:Program Files (x86)openshift-origin-v1.0.3"

While you’re at it, add some more environment variables:

set KUBERNETES_DOMAIN=vagrant.f8
set DOCKER_HOST=tcp://vagrant.f8:2375

Assuming, you haven’t changed the default routes added to your hosts file by the vagrant start.
The first one allows your OpenShift cli to use the right Kubernetes domain and the second one allows you to re-use the same Docker daemon, which is already running inside your Fabric8 vagrant image. Please make sure to NOT define any of the other docker env vars like DOCKER_CERT_PATH or DOCKER_TLS_VERIFY!
It is probably a good idea to add this into your system environment variables or put it into a batch-script.
Note: Make sure to use the Docker 1.6 client Windows (exe download). The latest 1.7 version doesn’t work yet.
After the vagrant box is created and docker images are downloaded, the fabric8 console should appear at http://fabric8.vagrant.f8/.
Your browser will complain about an insecure connection, because the certificate is self signed. You know how to accept this, don’t you?
Enter admin and admin as username and password. Now you see all the already installed fabric8 apps. Learn more about Apps and how to build them in the documentation.

Now, let’s see if we can use the docker daemon in the vagrant image :

docker ps

and see the full list of images running (just an excerpt here):

d97e438222d1 docker.io/fabric8/kibana4:4.1.0 "/run.sh" 7 seconds ago Up Less than a second k8s_kibana.7abf1ad4_kibana-4gvv6_default_500af2d1-32b8-11e5-8481-080027bdffff_4de5764e
eaf419a177d6 fabric8/fluentd-kubernetes:1.0 "fluentd" About a minute ago Up About a minute k8s_fluentd-elasticsearch.920b947c_fluentd-elasticsearch-
c4111cea4474 openshift/origin-docker-registry:v1.0.3 "/bin/sh -c 'REGISTR 3 minutes ago Up 3 minutes

One last thing to check, login to OpenShift via the command line tool:

oc login

use admin and admin again as username and password. Now check, which services are already running:

oc get services

Now you’re ready for the next steps. Let’s spin up a WildFly instance on OpenShift with Fabric8.

Dockerizing Your Java EE Application
Ok, how does that work? OpenShift is build on top of Docker and Kubernetes. And Fabric8 gives the normal developer a reasonable abstraction on top of all those infrastructure issues. Where do we start? Let’s start with a simple Java EE 7 project. It’s a really simple one in this case. An html page and a HelloWorld servlet. First step is to dockerize it. There is a wonderful plugin out there, which is part of the Fabric8 ecosystem of tools named docker-maven-plugin. Simply add this to your pom.xml and define how the image should look like. The magic is in the plugin configuration:

<maintainer>markus at jboss.org</maintainer>

Running a

mvn clean install docker:build

Builds your application and creates your docker image. Plus, this image is going to be uploaded to the docker registry running on your OpenShift instance. This is configured with two additional maven properties


There’s one more properties to look after:


It defines which parts of the build will be copied over to the Docker image.
The resulting Dockerfile looks like this:

FROM jboss/wildfly:9.0.1.Final
MAINTAINER markus at jboss.org
COPY maven /opt/jboss/wildfly/standalone/deployments/
USER root
RUN ["chown", "-R", "jboss:jboss","/opt/jboss/wildfly/standalone/deployments/"]
USER jboss

and a maven folder contains your application as a war file. From this point on, you could also use the docker image and push it to the official docker hub or another private repository. There’s not special magic in it. Find all the configuration options in the extensive docker-maven plugin manual.

Fabric8 – Docker and Kubernetes Are Usable Now
Fabric8’s aim is to help any developer, team and organisation that wants to work with containers. Nobody really wants to use a command line to push and start containers. Plus, there’s a lot more to it: Keeping them running, moving them around on hosts, monitoring, and and and. Don’t even think about microservices right now, but those need even more. More fine grained control, more teams, more CI/CD and auto-discovery features. And all this is Fabric8. It can create a complete CI/CD pipeline with approvals and code quality insurance. If you want to see a complete example, have a look at what James Rawlings wrote up a couple of days ago. So, what does that mean for my Java EE project and how to deploy it to OpenShift now? Read up a little about how to run an application on OpenShift with the nice overview post by Arun Gupta. It also includes a pointer to the OpenShift life-cycle. You basically need to create an OpenShift project and include a json file, which describes your application including all the links to the docker images. Doable. For sure. But Fabric8 can do better. There is another Maven plugin available, which takes all this burden off you and just let’s you deploy your application. Exactly, like I as a Java EE developer expected it to be. Let’s add the plugin to your project and configure it a bit:


This does little more, than just bind it to the different execution phases. You can skip this for this example, because we’re going to execute it manually anyway. The additional configurations do happen in Maven properties again:

<!-- Defining the Service Name for Fabric8 -->
<!-- Defining the internal service port -->
<!-- the expsed container port -->
<!-- the component label, as shown in the console -->
<!-- the container label -->
<!-- the application group label -->
<!-- the domain were working in -->
<!-- We don't want to upload images, but want OpenShift to pull them automatically -->

Ok, that’s about it. Most of it are naming, labels and configurations which are a one-time thing to figure out. All we really need from here on, is the Kubernetes JSON file. So, type:

mvn fabric8:json fabric8:apply

What didn’t work locally with my installation is, that my hosts file got updated with the new routing. So, you might need to add the domain-name mapping manually: myfear-wildfly-test.vagrant.f8

After a couple of seconds, the new pod is created and you can access your application via http://myfear-wildfly-test.vagrant.f8/. This runs your application on OpenShift.

Try docker ps again and see, if you can spot your container. In my case:

c329f2e0f63b myfear/wildfly-test:latest

If you struggle with something and your app doesn’t come up as expected, there are some ways to get closer to the problem. First is, to run the image locally against your Docker daemon. There’s a handy command, mvn fabric8:create-env to figure out the env vars for you so that you can run docker images outside of kubernetes as if they are inside (in terms of service discovery and environment variables defined in the kubernetes json). If that’s not an option, you can also get a bash from your running container:

docker exec -i -t c329f2e0f63b bash

Just replace the container id, with the real one from the ps command. That’s about it. Now you can totally start over. I’m going to walk you through the consoles a bit.

Access The OpenShift Console
First things first. You can spot your application on the OpenShift console. http://vagrant.f8:8443 brings you to the OpenShift console. Select the “default” space and see the Docker Registry, some elasticsearch inststances, some other and finally your instance:

You can also browse the individual pods and services. More about this maybe in a later blogpost

The Fabric8 Console
The one magical thing, we’re really interested in is the Fabric8 Console. http://fabric8.vagrant.f8/ brings you there and the “Kubernetes” tab displays all the running apps for you. This also includes you own application:

As you can see in this screenshot, I already scaled the app from one (default) to two pods. Clicking on the little pod icon on the far right (not in this screenshot) let’s you adjust the number of pods running. If you click on the “diagram” view, you see a complete overview of your infrastructure:

There’s a lot more to explore and I am going to show you more in subsequent blog-posts. Now, that we got everything up and running, this will be even more entertaining. Let me know, what you want to read about in particular.

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Finding the Right On-Ramp to the Cloud By @Dana_Gardner | @CloudExpo #Cloud

The best of virtualization and the best of hardware integration are creating the preferred on-ramps to the cloud. IT organizations are well enamored of virtualization. They are so into the trend that many have more than 80 percent of their server workloads virtualized. They like hybrid cloud conceptually, but are by no means adopting it enterprise-wide. We’re talking less than 30 percent of all workloads for typical companies, and a lot of that is via shadow IT and software as a service (SaaS).

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Mobility, Sensors, Robotic Process Automation By @KRBenedict | @ThingsExpo #IoT

If you have spent any time working on IT projects you would have heard the comment, "The system is only as good as the data." It's an accurate and necessary statement, as it describes a prerequisite for many technological innovations. Many system designs fail in the face of reality. Reality is often a cloaked term for implementing a digital solution in a physical world without a sufficient understanding of how the physical world operates. This is one problem where sensors can really help.

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[slides] Powering a Cloud Economy By @Solgenia_Corp | @CloudExpo #Cloud

The Cloud industry has moved from being more than just being able to provide infrastructure and management services on the Cloud. Enter a new era of Cloud computing where monetization’s services through the Cloud are an essential piece of strategy to feed your organizations bottom-line, your revenue and Profitability. In their session at 16th Cloud Expo, Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, and Ian Khan, Global Strategic Positioning & Brand Manager at Solgenia, discussed how to easily offer services such as Big Data Analytics, Enterprise Document management, Business Management and more through innovative options of monetizing the Cloud on a Consumption model. They also discussed how to manage quick provisioning, metering and billing of any service on the cloud through Solgenia’s latest offering, Powua.

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Guardians at the Gate: Securing Third-Party Access to Critical Systems | @CloudExpo #Cloud

Access is everything. It is the fundamental pillar that determines whether critical enterprise assets are safe or exposed. Knowing the answers to the questions of who is accessing what, where they are accessing that information from, why they are accessing that information and, finally, what exactly they’re accessing are the basic questions that stand between a breach and brand reputation.

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Why Is jQuery Undefined?

Rich, Over 50, And Love To Binge Drink: Baby Boomers Know How To Have Risky Fun – Tech Times

People who are rich, over 50 and are socially active are more at risk of harmful drinking, a new study shows. The researchers also determined other …

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Tom Cruise, 53, ‘head over heels’ in love with British millionaire banker’s daughter Emily Thomas, 22

The English rose romantically linked to Hollywood moviestar Tom Cruise is said to be ‘popular,’ ‘outgoing’ and ‘fun-loving.’ Fifty-three-year-old hunk …

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Creating a List of Posts With the Same Categories as the Current One

Jul 24, 2015

Pheasants make farmers rich – Society – VietNam News

QUANG NAM (VNS) — Tran Van Chuc, an official at Duy Thu Commune’s People’s Committee in central Quang Nam, has a love for pheasants and …

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Arquillian Container Chameleon 1.0.0.Alpha4 Released

By unknown The Arquillian team is proud to announce the 1.0.0.Alpha4 release of the Arquillian Container Chameleon component!

  <h3>What is Arquillian?</h3>
  Arquillian is open source software that empowers you to test JVM-based applications more effectively. Created to defend the software galaxy from bugs, Arquillian brings your test to the runtime so you can focus on testing your application's behavior rather than managing the runtime. Using Arquillian, you can develop a comprehensive suite of tests from the convenience of your IDE and run them in any IDE, build tool or continuous integration environment.
  <h3>Release details</h3>
          <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="http://arquillian.org/modules/arquillian-container-chameleon-container-adapter/">Arquillian Container Chameleon</a>
            <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="https://github.com/arquillian/arquillian-container-chameleon/commit/d41f8d51d26f9373e649756d340b71b1de63f45d.html">view tag</a>
      </tr><tr><th>Release date</th>
      </tr><tr><th>Released by</th>
        <td>Aslak Knutsen</td>
      </tr><tr><th>Compiled against</th>
              <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="http://arquillian.org/modules/core-platform/">Arquillian Core</a>
              <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="http://arquillian.org/blog/2015/04/17/arquillian-core-1-1-8-Final/">1.1.8.Final</a>
    Published artifacts
      <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="http://repo1.maven.org/maven2/org/arquillian/container/arquillian-container-chameleon/1.0.0.Alpha4/arquillian-container-chameleon-1.0.0.Alpha4.jar" target="_blank">jar</a>
      <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="https://repository.jboss.org/nexus/content/repositories/unzip/org/arquillian/container/arquillian-container-chameleon/1.0.0.Alpha4/arquillian-container-chameleon-1.0.0.Alpha4-javadoc.jar-unzip/index.html" target="_blank">javadoc</a>
      <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="http://repo1.maven.org/maven2/org/arquillian/container/arquillian-container-chameleon/1.0.0.Alpha4/arquillian-container-chameleon-1.0.0.Alpha4.pom" target="_blank">pom</a>
    Release notes and resolved issues

      <ul><li><a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="https://github.com/arquillian/arquillian-container-chameleon/issues/24">#24 WildFly 9.0.0.Final Remote cause Exception</a></li>
    Thanks to the following list of contributors:
    <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" href="http://arquillian.org/community/aslakknutsen">Aslak Knutsen</a>

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Mobile Commerce, Speed, Operational Tempos: Part 3 By @KRBenedict | @ThingsExpo #IoT

Today enterprises are facing a massive challenge that will require new strategies and investment. In fact, 80 percent of survey participants reported that increasing demand for mobile apps is forcing IT departments to rethink and change how they have designed IT environments. Rethinking and changing IT environments requires investment and budget, and 83 percent believe the demand for mobile applications will force enterprises to make major investments in their IT environments to better support real-time interactions with mobile apps and to remain competitive.

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Infinispan 8.0.0.Beta2

By Adrian Nistor

Dear Infinispan Community,

We are happy to announce the second Beta release of Infinispan 8.0.0!
This release brings many improvements and fixes:
  • Distributed Stream support (ISPN-5293) – Support for distributed java.util.stream.Stream operations allowing for efficient remote aggregations and others (a detailed blog post will follow).
  • Grouping and aggregations with DSL based queries (ISPN-5416).
  • Log4J 2.x support (which people have been demanding for a long time).
  • The Server is now based upon WildFly 9.
  • Improvements in the Remote Iterator that will benefit the upcoming Apache Spark connector.
  • Development on our web based admin console continues as planned. We have added cache configuration viewers, updated live cache statistics as well as an ability to create caches from the admin console. Stay tuned for latest developments on our admin console project at https://github.com/infinispan/infinispan-management-console
For a complete list of features and bug fixes included in this release please refer to the release notes. Visit our downloads section to find the latest release.
We plan to release 8.0.0.Final at the end of August, so please stay tuned for more exciting developments happening during this cycle.

If you have any questions please check our forums, our mailing lists or ping us directly on IRC.

Many thanks to all who contributed to this release!

The Infinispan team

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Low Canadian dollar hits Bellingham airport passenger counts | Hospitality ...

Low Canadian dollar hits Bellingham airport passenger counts | Hospitality ...
Business in Vancouver - 4 hours ago
Low Canadian dollar hits Bellingham airport passenger counts. Bellingham International Airport suffered a 30.6% drop in passengers in June.

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Low Canadian dollar hits Bellingham airport passenger counts | Hospitality ...

Rich honored for 50 years of service – Harlan Daily Enterprise – harlandaily.com

Bradley Fields|Daily Enterprise Funeral Directors Association of Kentucky Vice President John Jones, left, presenting a 50 year pin to James C. Rich

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Advances in Testing With Xcode 7 and Swift 2

Canadian dollar drops and TSX sees red opening-EWC-GDX-USO-Stockhouse news

Canadian dollar drops and TSX sees red opening-EWC-GDX-USO-Stockhouse news
Stockhouse - 5 hours ago
TORONTO _ The Toronto stock market traded lower, dragged down by the materials and energy sectors, as the Canadian dollar continued to lose ground.

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Canadian dollar drops and TSX sees red opening-EWC-GDX-USO-Stockhouse news

Does the falling Canadian dollar help Canadian teams in free agency? - Eyes On ...

Does the falling Canadian dollar help Canadian teams in free agency? - Eyes On ...
Habs Eyes on the Prize (blog) - 1 hour ago
Much of the talk around the falling Canadian dollar is about the financial strain it will put on teams like the Winnipeg Jets, and how it could impact the possible expansion to Quebec City, not to mention the constantly-crying-poor Ottawa Senators ...

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Does the falling Canadian dollar help Canadian teams in free agency? - Eyes On ...

Webinar: Getting Started with Google Cloud Platform

By GCP Team

As software engineers, you want to transform your ideas into product development as quickly as possible, and not be hindered by cumbersome infrastructure. That’s why Google Cloud Platform is designed to help developers build, test and deploy applications on Google’s highly-scalable and reliable infrastructure.

At Google, we understand that tasks like signing up for a trial, creating virtual machines, or even just launching a WordPress application should be easy and readily available at your fingertips. Therefore, we rounded up our team of developer advocates and put together a how-to-guide on some of the most common tasks and questions asked by users who are starting on the Google Cloud Platform.

Conducted in the form of a step-by-step demonstration, we are pleased to invite you to join our webinar on Getting Started with Google Cloud Platform, available in 3 time zones to developers around the world.

Webinar: Getting Started with Google Cloud Platform
Duration : 30 minutes

1. Setting up your Google Cloud Platform Account
2. Using the Cloud Launcher to quickly deploy WordPress
3. Using the pricing calculator to estimate pricing
4. Configuring Firewalls and Networks
5. How to setup a custom stack
6. Backups, Increasing Disk Capacity, and Upgrading Servers
7. Turning off the lights

We are hosting the same webinar content in the following time zones:

Tuesday, 28 July 2015
11:00 AM PT

Europe, Middle East and Africa
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
10:00 AM (UK), 11:00 AM (France), 12:00 PM (Israel)

Asia Pacific
Thursday, 30 July 2015
10:30AM (India), 1:00 PM (Singapore/Hong Kong), 3:00PM (Sydney, AEDT)

Also, if you want to follow along with Sandeep in your own Google Cloud Platform account, you can start your Free Trial here. It’s absolutely free, and gets you up and running immediately. We look forward to showing you what Google Cloud Platform can do for you.

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Hillary Clinton targets the rich–with a Nerf gun – Yahoo Finance

That’s Hillary Clinton’s attitude toward the wealthy, if you go by the letter of her latest economic proposal. There are a few unstated aspects of her plan, …

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Rich Levine’s Open Letter to Roger Goodell – CSNNE.com

Pedro Martinez at the top of his game with the Red Sox may have been the best Boston has ever seen. 1 of 6; MORE …

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[slides] Internet of Everything By @GarylHall | @ThingsExpo #IoE #IoT

The Internet of Everything (IoE) brings together people, process, data and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before – transforming information into knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. IoE creates new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented opportunities to improve business and government operations, decision making and mission support capabilities.

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Machine Learning - Azure vs AWS By @SrinivasanSunda | @CloudExpo #IoT #Cloud

Machine Learning, which is a process to predict future patterns and incidents based on the models created out of past data, is definitely the most important part of the success of the Internet of Things in the enterprise and consumer space. The main reason is that without machine learning the entire backbone of the Internet of Things - event acquisition, event processing , event storage and event reporting - is merely a live display of events happening elsewhere and will not provide any value to its consumers. Think of a smart monitor in an oil well that monitors various climatic conditions and other factors that can cause a failure; unless the monitor is able to predict of a failure and corrects itself the usage of such solution is quite limited.

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Canadian Dollar And Business Outlook - The Western Producer

Canadian Dollar And Business Outlook - The Western Producer
Western Producer (subscription) - 2 hours ago
Winnipeg, July 24 - The Canadian dollar fell lower against its American counterpart Friday morning, as more negative economic data from China weighed down the loonie.
Canadian Dollar Falls As Commodities Falter After Weak China Data - Finance ... - London South East

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Canadian Dollar And Business Outlook - The Western Producer

How Wealthy Is Everyone Who Isn’t Rich? – Bloomberg View

What about the rest of the income strata? As it turns out, there is a fascinating story there as well. It may not be as glitzy and luxe as the Billionaires …

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Free the Data: FEMA’s New Data Visualization Tool


A data visualization map of Georgia shows different types of disasters that have occurred since 1953.

FEMA collects data from disasters. We look at various hazards over time, and a question we get a lot when we’re trying to talk about what can happen is what has happened previously?

Providing data in its raw format and also building visualization tools allows people to look at their past history, look at what kind of hazards they are vulnerable to, and look at the frequency of disaster declarations and the impacts. These are useful tools to give people context to what their past looks like when they are planning for future risk.

Not everyone is a programmer. Some people can take our raw data and manipulate it quite effectively. When I was a county emergency manager, I was a staff of one, so even if you put the data out there in its raw feeds, I really didn’t have the skills or resources to look at it.

So our strategy has two parts to it: make the data available at its lowest common denominator (which is our feeds) and then then build visualization tools around the most frequently asked questions we get.

Part of the idea of freeing the data is we don’t know what people are going to come up with, so we don’t put any boundaries on it, we ask folks to reference it back to the source, and how they manipulate it and what they do with it—we invite folks to go experiment.

If someone overlays the financial data, it becomes a heat map of devastation because the greater dollar figures are tied to the greater damages. You can also see where we have been making investment to buy down future risk, which is another way to look at a heat map of where is the concentration of funding going into and does that correspond to the hazards we’re seeing as far as previous declarations.

What I would hope would come out of this is that people have a better understanding of risk. Disasters are fortunately for many people, very infrequent. We know the least useful tool for getting ready for hurricanes or tornadoes is experience, because very few people fortunately go through it. So looking at data that we have about these events for the people who have not been through them, we can, I hope, cross the experience gap.

Visualizing the Data

You can start seeing hot spots when you look at overlays of which communities have been declared major disaster areas but then look at how much money they have received; often times if you look at the early data, all we could show you was how many counties within the state were declared in the disaster—it didn’t really tell you the impact.

It’s a very quick way to say yes, this makes sense. We see states and local government making investments in mitigation that corresponds to their history of disaster and their impacts of disaster, and if you saw funding that didn’t match that up, it would cause you to ask the question why. And there may be good reasons, but at least it gives us a chance to ask questions about why doesn’t this make sense, versus just assuming that things are going the way you would expect them to.

Our New Disaster Data Visualization Tool

As our first data visualization tool that we soft launched, it didn’t have a lot of refinement. But people were surprised by some of the states with high frequent disaster declarations and people didn’t even realize how many times their states had declarations. This gives you a way to take a lot of data at your home state to see how many times it’s been declared, and some people are surprised by how many times they have been declared or how infrequently they have been declared.

The only way you could previously get that is by going disaster by disaster (on the web) or sifting through the raw data to try to look it up.

By visualizing the data, you can point and click to explore the data without having to go through all of those previous disasters.

The visualization uses historical disaster declaration data to show you everything from seasonal risk to specific types of hazards and patterns, for both local communities and Tribal governments.

As we’ve done with disasters, we’ve maintained specific pages and information for those disasters that may not be available in that visualization tool, so we link to it. It’s important, so if you have a question about a particular disaster, like in my home state of Florida with Hurricane Andrew, you can see Andrew and you see the big dollar impacts. It’s not that there was just a hurricane called Andrew in 1992. It’s important to get the information into the hands of people, and to do it the easiest way possible.

How this tool supports local emergency management

Often, as a local emergency manager, you’re asked to go out to speak to groups and you want to be able to provide the communities the risk and what they need to do to get ready. It’s always good to have the past history, so you can get that data easily.

Particularly when talking with business groups, they want to see dollar figures and they ask how much are you talking about? Saying that you have been hit by tornadoes or hurricanes doesn’t really put it into context in dollar figures, but when you can start showing them money spent and impacts, it’s a much more powerful tool.

Either you have to do a lot of research and look in a lot of arcane places or you can use our newest visualization tool with a couple of clicks and you can adjust to see historical seasonal risk, adjust to see specific types of hazards, and you can see previous risk patterns—and that is something that is pretty powerful when you’re trying to get across preparedness and mitigation planning before disasters happen.

On the other hand, if a community has been fortunate and hasn’t had a lot of disaster activity, you can use a community that has similar characteristics and who has experienced disasters to see what it cost you. If you have a similar risk, but you may not have had that impact like other communities, we could see what the potential impacts are.

If you’re a staff of one or two people, that’s weeks of research. With our visualization tool, it’s a couple of clicks. When I was a local or state official, I think it would have been helpful to go back and look at how many times has my state been impacted by hurricanes since these program have been in existence.

How this helps with future planning

Too often I’ve hear—I’ve lived here all my life, that will never happen—until it happens.

So we need to have a better way of communicating risk and showing the vulnerability of communities. It’s looking at addressing risk from the future—from land use planning to codes to ways we can build in our environment that doesn’t grow our risk and hopefully buy down future risk. It’s ensuring we gain a better understanding of what has happened in past disasters, what those costs are, and what may be better solutions, conversely to building a system that only responds to a disaster after the fact and tries to rebuild.

Particularly in the research community, looking at architecture from land use planning to growth management policies, to look at this data to challenge our assumptions of how we build resiliency organically into community design and function, versus when a disaster happens and then we need to figure out how to do something different.

Collaborating with the Red Cross

A portion of the Red Cross' Home Fire Statistics infographic that notes 69 percent of parents believe their children would know what to do or how to escape a fire, even though 52 percent of parents with children ages 3 to 17 have not talked to them about fire safety, 70 percent of families with children have not identified a safe place to meet outside of the home, and 82 percent have not practiced home fire drills. Click image to view full infographic as a PDF file.

One of the things you hear a lot about is big data. If you take all this data and put it out there, someone is going to come up with a miracle cure and find something that no one ever thought about. But there aren’t that many concrete examples of what big data has done.

We have a program with the U.S. Fire Administration called the National Fire Incident Reporting System, and over time it has collected a lot of data. One of the challenges was, once we had the data, what could we do with it and who would be interested in it. The first thing we had to do with it is make that data available because it was not easy to get to.

The Red Cross completed an evaluation of disasters and found the majority of the chapter responses in this nation were to house fires. It’s the largest, single, most active disaster response they have. People don’t really think of home fires as a disaster unless it’s your home but the Red Cross, they saw this as one of the areas that their chapters were dealing with daily.

One of the main concerns of the U.S. Fire Administrator is that we were not seeing a decrease in the loss of life in house fires. It had been pretty stable. We were still losing far too many people. And one of the pieces of information that we had that came out of all of that big data—the majority of fatalities in home fires—do not have a working smoke detector present.

There have been smoke detectors “give aways,” grants for smoke detectors, but there had never been a concerted effort to target smoke detectors based upon the data where the deaths were occurring. As a result, we were not always sure the smoke detectors went to the greatest need. Often times they went to the greatest availability, but they weren’t going to where the data said the greatest risk was.

The Red Cross said this is something they were interested in and we partnered with them, and they also partnered with volunteer organizations (to do the installations) who targeted communities based on our data, where the greatest risk was.

You can never give away enough smoke detectors to have them in every home, but you can target the high risk areas and start the process of bringing down the death toll.

The FEMA App: A Swiss Army knife of preparedness

250-x-444-FEMA-app-menu-screen-AndroidShifting from data to information that is timely, I want to talk a little about apps and alerts.

There are a lot of apps that do notifications. You can sign up for alerts from local government to alerts from various weather companies. The challenge has been marrying up an emergency alert from the weather service to corresponding action. A lot of times, when you get a tornado warning, you get that message, but then you have to go somewhere else to find out what to do.

In the new version of the FEMA App, if there a tornado warning or tornado watch from the National Weather Service, it alerts you to that, but then the FEMA App ties you back to information in your app. So if you lose connectivity or you don’t have a lot of bandwidth, it’s already in the app. It’s very simple, you have what you need to do, right now.

We did this for all of the major warning and watches from hurricanes to tornadoes to flash floods to severe thunderstorms. So when that comes up, it will not only give you the official weather service product, it also provides specific actions so you can click and know what the next steps are you need to take.

The other thing that the team did was to allow people to select up to 5 locations.

I work in Washington but I kept my home in FL, so I actually have the alerts for here and there. I can add family members in New Orleans during hurricane season. Generally I know this stuff, but it’s been interesting to me how many times I’ve seen special weather statements for severe thunderstorm warnings for my house in Florida while I’m up here working.

So if you’ve got your mom who lives somewhere, like in Naples, and you want to know what’s going on down there, because mom may not always call you when something is happening, you’ll get those weather updates, so you can call her and ask—“Hey mom, how are you doing? Are you OK? I saw there was a tornado warning.”

It’s moving from just an App that gives you basic information to something more dynamic. There are a couple of other features in there that I think as people dig into it, will find out that it’s a Swiss army knife of preparedness. We also have disaster reporter that allows people to self-report impact, and shoot pictures and send us information on what’s happening.

Often times, some of the best information is the initial reports on the ground. And we know from a lot of disasters, cell service isn’t always knocked out. Where you do have it, or if you have wifi, send us your pictures. It gives us often times a good, initial assessment of how bad things have gotten. It’s got a lot of depth to it.

Thanks for reading and click on these links to learn more about each of the items I discussed:

This post was originally published on the FEMA blog by Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator.

by Andrea Sigritz via DigitalGov

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