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I was Depressed After Failing in 3 Subjects. Here’s how I Finally Overcame Code-o-Phobia and Topped My Exams

Ankush Sharma shares how a training at Internshala was beneficial for him

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After failing in three exams, Ankush Sharma joins online training at Internshala. Pixabay

About the Author: Ankush Sharma is pursuing B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun. He joined Internshala Trainings for learning Android and shares how this decision transformed his life.

Demolition, desperation, and depression. These three words became synonymous with my life after the first year of college. Being a computer science student with absolutely no coding background meant that I needed to put in double the efforts. However, when it came to coding, I failed thrice in exams and got backlogs in subjects like Programming, Data Structures, and Advanced Programming. I had virtually given up on coding and wanted to quit the stream for some other option. Amidst such depression, I stumbled upon Android. It fascinated me, but I knew I could not do anything as my programming basics were not clear. When all seemed lost, I came to know about Internshala Trainings through a friend. At first, I didn’t bother about any training, but there was something eerily soothing about the UI of the website which compelled me to try it once. I had some money saved and invested it in the Android winter training.

Ankush Sharma exams
” I failed thrice in exams and got backlogs in subjects like Programming, Data Structures, and Advanced Programming,” says Ankush Sharma.

The training was divided into 4 modules, each having a test of its own. Projects like making an Android calculator app were also included for a rigorous training regime. I started off quite slow, learning and practicing the basics of Java first and later moving to Android. I was also attending summer classes at the college, studying to clear my backlogs. I had always thought that I could do any free course online or watch videos on YouTube – after all, everywhere on the internet, the content would be same. Boy, could I BE any more wrong! Internshala had a tailored content for learning. It started with focusing on all the basics and then gradually escalated, covering everything that any beginner needed. It answered many questions and doubts that I had for a long time. Slowly but steadily, the training helped me improve my coding and also helped in understanding the concepts being taught in the summer classes.

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Ankush Sharma topped all his backlog exams of coding and within 2 months of completing the training at Internshala, he started loving coding. Pixabay

The flexibility offered by an online training was another advantage. I could study for as long as I wanted according to my own schedule which helped me in managing the college work. Moreover, the free Placement Preparation Training gave many handy interview tips and also taught me the intricacies of writing impressive cover letters. The provided support was also great. Whenever I faced any problems, I used to shoot messages or emails to them and the response was always quick. I was glad that this was not another money-hogging website which doesn’t care about you once the fee is paid. The support team genuinely cared and helped me at every step.

In short, this training changed my life. The same coding which was leading me into dark became my lightsaber (laser sword)! (Yeah, okay. Even Jedi knows I’m a geek!). I topped all my backlog exams of coding and within 2 months of completing the training, I developed two apps which are available on Play Store. After successfully developing the first app, my interest in coding increased significantly.

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I started devoting a lot of hours on this regularly and topped the subsequent exams in the next semester! I started getting noticed for my coding skills and even got offers to work with a couple of startups. Now, I have also done Internshala’s IoT training and added yet another skill in my arsenal.

Thank you, Internshala, for being my guiding light. I owe my success to the boost that you gave.

Courtesy: Sarvesh Agrawal is the founder and CEO of Internshala, an internships and trainings platform (internshala.com)

 

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Find out How Cyborgs, Trolls and Bots Can Fill the Internet with Misinformation

Cyborgs, Trolls and Bots: A Guide to Online Misinformation

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Misinformation is defined as any false information, regardless of intent, including honest mistakes or misunderstandings of the facts. Pixabay

Cyborgs, trolls and bots can fill the internet with lies and half-truths. Understanding them is key to learning how misinformation spreads online.

As the 2016 election showed, social media is increasingly used to amplify false claims and divide Americans over hot-button issues including race and immigration. Researchers who study misinformation predict it will get worse leading up to this year’s presidential vote. Here’s a guide to understanding the problem:

MISINFORMATION VS. DISINFORMATION

Political misinformation has been around since before the printing press, but the internet has allowed falsehoods, conspiracy theories and exaggerations to spread faster and farther than ever.

Misinformation is defined as any false information, regardless of intent, including honest mistakes or misunderstandings of the facts. Disinformation, on the other hand, typically refers to misinformation created and spread intentionally as a way to confuse or mislead.

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An illustration of hacking, speading misinformation and cyberattack. VOA

Misinformation and disinformation can appear in political ads or social media posts. They can include fake news stories or doctored videos. One egregious example of disinformation from last year was a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed down to make her sound as if she were slurring her words.

Research indicates that false claims spread more easily than accurate ones, possibly because they are crafted to grab attention.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology analyzed more than 126,000 stories, some true and some false, that were tweeted millions of times from 2006 through the end of 2016. Online misinformation has been blamed for deepening America’s political polarization and contributing to distrust in government. The risks were highlighted in 2016 when Russian trolls created fake accounts to spread and amplify social media posts about controversial issues.

WAR OF THE BOTS AND CYBORGS

The disposable foot soldiers in this digital conflict are bots. In the social media context, these autonomous programs can run accounts to spread content without human involvement.

Many are harmless, tweeting out random poems or pet photos. But others are up to no good and designed to resemble actual users.

One study by researchers at the University of Southern California analyzed election-related tweets sent in September and October 2016 and found that 1 in 5 were sent by a bot. The Pew Research Center concluded in a 2018 study that accounts suspected of being bots are responsible for as many as two-thirds of all tweets that link to popular websites.

While flesh-and-blood Twitter users will often post a few times a day, about a variety of subjects, the most obvious bots will tweet hundreds of times a day, day and night, and often only on a specific topic. They are more likely to repost content rather than create something original.

And then there’s the cyborg, a kind of hybrid account that combines a bot’s tirelessness with human subtlety. Cyborg accounts are those in which a human periodically takes over a bot account to respond to other users and to post original content. They are more expensive and time consuming to operate, but they don’t give themselves away as robots.

“You can get a lot from a bot, but maybe it’s not the best quality,” said Emilio Ferrara, a data science researcher at the University of Southern California who co-wrote the study on Twitter bots. “The problem with cyborgs is they are much harder to catch and detect.”

SPOT THE BOTS

Bots can be hard to spot, even for the best researchers.

“We have 12 ways that we spot a bot, and if we hit seven or eight of them we have pretty high confidence,” said Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that studies connections between social media, cybersecurity and government.

Nonetheless, Brookie recalled the case of a Twitter account from Brazil that was posting almost constantly — sometimes once per minute — and displayed other bot-like characteristics. And yet, “It was a little grandma, who said, ‘This is me!’”

Their prevalence and the difficulty of identifying them has made bots into a kind of digital bogeyman and transformed the term into an insult, used to dismiss other social media users with different opinions.

Michael Watsey, a 43-year-old New Jersey man who often tweets his support for President Donald Trump, said he has been repeatedly called a Russian bot by people he argues with online. The accusations prompted Twitter to temporarily suspend his account more than once, forcing him to verify he is a human.

“All I’m trying to do is uses my First Amendment right to free speech,” he said. “It’s crazy that it’s come to this.”

TROLLS AND SOCK PUPPETS

The word troll once referred to beasts of Scandinavian mythology who hid under bridges and attacked travelers. Now it also refers to people who post online to provoke others, sometimes for their own amusement and sometimes as part of a coordinated campaign.

Sock puppets are another oddly named denizen of social media, in this case a type of imposter account. While some users may use anonymous accounts simply to avoid identifying themselves, sock-puppet accounts are used by the owner to attack their critics or praise themselves.

Misinformation
Misinformation and disinformation can appear in political ads or social media posts. Pixabay

FAKED VIDEOS: DEEP, CHEAP AND SHALLOW

Deepfakes are videos that have been digitally created with artificial intelligence or machine learning to make it appear something happened that did not. They are seen as an emerging threat, as improvements in video editing software make it possible for tricksters to create increasingly realistic footage of, say, former President Barack Obama delivering a speech he never made, in a setting he never visited. They are expensive and difficult to create — especially in a convincing way.

Facebook announced last month that it would ban deepfake videos — with exceptions for satire. Beginning in March, Twitter will prohibit doctored videos, photography and audio recordings “likely to cause harm.”

By contrast, shallowfakes, cheapfakes or dumbfakes are videos that have been doctored using more basic techniques, such as slowing down or speeding up footage or cutting it.

Because they’re easy and inexpensive to make, cheapfakes can be every bit as dangerous as their fancier cousin, the deepfake.

“Deepfakes are getting more realistic and easier to do,” said John Pavlik, a journalism professor at Rutgers University who studies how technology and the internet are changing communication habits. “But you don’t have to have special software to make these simpler ones.”

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Researchers who study Americans’ changing media habits recommend that people turn to a variety of sources and perspectives for their news, use critical thinking when evaluating information on social media, and think twice about reposting viral claims. Otherwise, they say, misinformation will continue to flow, and users will continue to spread it.

“The only solution,” Ferrara said, “is education.” (VOA)