Archive for » December 30th, 2014«

Sailing education project sets sail

“I want to share my own personal love of sailing and the water to somebody else,” Carrie said.

The couple recently acquired five hand-built boats from Hudson Sailing Community in Manhattan. The New York-based organization sponsors an afterschool program in the winter where students build small sailing boats, staying busy during the off-season.

The Bergstroms have considered developing a sailing school for a number of years, and Lars happened to find the advertisement for the five skiffs as they began preliminary planning.

“We like to ramble along with certain ideas until things come to fruition,” Carrie said.

Lars grew up sailing large boats on the Chesapeake Bay with his father. Carrie sailed and raced small boats with her family in Wisconsin, New Jersey and upstate New York. They both relocated to Beaufort, N.C., where they met.

Carrie was working in Beaufort as a bread baker and Lars was working in marine canvas when the two decided to relocate to Wilmington to raise their children.

“I was working in canvas shops, mostly on power boats, and we were losing sight of our dream to be sailors,” said Lars.

The two opened Bergstrom Sails in April 2011. The sailing loft recently partnered with Northsails, one of the leaders in the sail-making industry.

The partnership with Northsails has given the Bergstroms access to many of the materials they need to start building the five skiffs for the sailing school. With only the five hulls, the Bergstroms are building the masts, sails and rudders for each boat before they are water-ready.

“In sailboat racing, five makes up a fleet, so it worked out perfectly,” said Lars. “We have just enough for our own fleet.”

They have just started the process of becoming a nonprofit organization. The main goal of the school is to provide sailing lessons for little or no cost.

“We’re hoping for completely free,” said Carrie.

Once the sailing school becomes an official nonprofit organization, Bergstrom Sails will start soliciting donations of money, materials and volunteered time.

“There are already sailing programs with these same boats here in Wilmington and Southport and Beaufort,” said Lars. “But we want to provide sailing for families and children who can’t afford to pay for those summer camps.”

The Bergstroms are planning to have the five skiffs ready for the water this spring. They can be reached at 910-512-2970.

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Facebook Apologizes For Its 'Year In Review' Approach

This month, Facebook launched a customizable slideshow feature called Year In Review. To increase the engagement in Year In Review, Facebook automatically created a slideshow with suggested photos for each of their users. Facebook’s algorithms decided the suggested photos based on the month each photo was uploaded and the number of “likes” they received. The default tagline for the Year In Review slideshow is “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.” Unfortunately, many Facebook users had a tumultuous year instead of a “great” year and Year In Review served as a reminder of traumatic circumstances.

This year, web designer Eric Meyer lost his six-year-old daughter Rebecca to brain cancer so he did not have any interest in creating a Year In Review slideshow to share with his Facebook friends. However, Facebook’s algorithms automatically created a slideshow for him with his daughter’s face in the center of the first slide with some holiday-themed clip art. Facebook displayed the slideshow at the top of his News Feed on December 24th, asking him if he wanted to customize and share his Year In Review.

“I know, of course, that this is not a deliberate assault.  This inadvertent algorithmic cruelty is the result of code that works in the overwhelming majority of cases, reminding people of the awesomeness of their years, showing them selfies at a party or whale spouts from sailing boats or the marina outside their vacation house,” said Meyer in a blog post. “But for those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year.”

Meyer suggested several design ideas to avoid potential mishaps for the Year In Review app in the future. For example, Meyer recommended Facebook to avoid pre-filling a picture until they are sure the users actually wants to see pictures from the year. He also said that Facebook should ask users if they want to try a preview instead of pushing the Year In Review app at them using a simple “yes” or “no” box. Meyer pointed out that programmers should plan for failure modes and worst-case scenarios.

Facebook Product Manager Jonathan Gheller oversaw the Year In Review project and reached out to Meyer directly to apologize. Gheller said he will do better in the future. Meyer wrote a follow-up blog post saying that he actually owes the Year In Review team team an apology. “I am very sorry that I dropped the Internet on his head for Christmas.  He and his team didn’t deserve it,” wrote Meyer.

With over 1.25 billion users, Facebook is learning the importance of becoming empathetic to its users and responding positively to feedback. Internally, Facebook is no longer using the term “users.” Facebook now refers to its users as “people.”

At the Atlantic Navigate conference this month, Facebook’s director of Product Design Margaret Gould Stewart said that Facebook also formed an Empathy Team. According to BusinessInsider, the Facebook Empathy Team partners with small businesses and advertisers to help run campaigns and find out what their goals are. Gould Stewart said that Facebook now pairs individuals from the Empathy Team with  people at small businesses to create campaigns. If the campaign fails, then the Empathy Team will also feel the pain and find ways to improve upon future campaigns.

This is not the first time that Facebook launched a Year In Review app. Last year, Facebook allowed users to create a Year In Review video slideshow based on life events like graduations, vacations, engagements and weddings. In 2012, Facebook also had a Year In Review app that showed you the most liked photos and status updates along with the number of Facebook friends you made during the year and the number of Pages you liked.

Facebook “Year In Review” screenshot / Credit: Facebook

What are your thoughts about Facebook’s Year In Review app this year? Do you think it was too aggressive this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Plane crashes near Hobart yacht race competitors

HOBART, Australia (AP) — A yacht sailing in the Sydney to Hobart race witnessed a light plane crashing into the ocean and other boats later became involved in a search for the plane and its pilot and passenger.

The single-engine plane was filming the boats when it crashed on Monday evening, prompting a ”mayday, mayday … we’ve a plane in the water,” radio call from the yacht Mistraal as it rounded the Tasman Peninsula bound for the finish line.

Crew on board the boat saw the plane go down and its tail disappear beneath the waves.

Up to nine race yachts diverted to help search for the plane. Police said Tuesday an oil slick was found in the area but there was no sign of the aircraft or the two people aboard.

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