course review – Greening the Economy: Sustainable Cities

Greening the Economy: Sustainable Cities is yet another awesome course from Lund University. The course is available on Coursera. It’s the second course I took from Lund University, after Greening the Economy: Lessons from Scandinavia.

The course explores the influence cities can have on greening the economy. It covers subjects like urban transformation, infrastructure, experiments and living labs taking place in various cities and urban lifestyles and how individual choices can be influenced by local infrastructure.

I loved that they included not only course lectures, but also videos from different conferences and presentations of various projects. The examples are made by some of the key players in the smart cities world, like UN-Habitat and WWF and show some activities that promote sustainable cities in Scandinavia and around the world. This way they present not only a theoretical part, but also some practical examples in the field 🙂

The course also recommends some short readings that offer an insight on the latest studies on smart cities.

The course takes 5 weeks to finish, with around 5 hours per week for videos, readings and assignments.

What did you think of the course? 

Step forward in 2017: Build in-demand career skills with Coursera

Online courses about smart cities

I think it’s about time to revive this blog 🙂 Hopefully I’ll start posting more regularly from now on.

I’ll start with my new interest, smart cities 🙂 What is a smart city? In short, it’s a city in which various information and communication technology and Internet of Things solutions were implemented in order to improve the quality of life. It has a wide range of applications: from real-time air quality monitoring to apps for city officials to interact directly with the community, to traffic management and loads of others.

I’ve recently become interested in the field and started learning more and more about it online. Apart for cool app ideas, I’ve also looked into online courses in order to get a strong background in the subject.

So, inspired by the structure of The Dual Master’s in Sustainable Smart Cities from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Staffordshire University, I looked for free online courses and came up with the following list.

I’ll keep adding to it as I find new online resources. And also use it to track my progress. 🙂

Do you know any good smart cities books, online classes or other useful resources?

recommended-book: Clean code

From naming variables and methods, to picking function arguments, to error handling and organizing classes and even comments and formatting, the book is full of suggestions on writing cleaner code. Clean as in easy to write, follow and understand 🙂 The book also has some hands on examples that cover all the discussed topics. I agree that this book is a must-read for any developer.

Clean code cover

From the back cover:

Readers will come away from this book understanding

  • How to tell the difference between good and bad code
  • How to write good code and how to transform bad code into good code
  • How to create good names, good functions, good objects, and good classes
  • How to format code for maximum readability
  • How to implement complete error handling without obscuring code logic
  • How to unit test and practice test-driven development

This book is a must for any developer, software engineer, project manager, team lead, or systems analyst with an interest in producing better code.

I’ll surely pay much more attention to the code I write from now on 🙂

Improving posts on facebook pages using the power editor

I recently discovered the facebook power editor. A really useful tool for creating and managing your facebook pages posts and ads. In this tutorial I will describe how to use it in order to make better posts for your pages.

Apart from the usual components that you can post on your page (text, links, images), using the power editor you can also add call for action buttons to your  link posts. Let’s see how.

First, open power editor and select the manage pages option from the dropdown at the top of the page.

using the facebook power editor

To be able to view the posts of your page and create new posts, the first thing you need to do is to load the page in the editor. You the download to power editor button to do this. A popup similar to this one will show up:

using the facebook power editor

In it, select the pages option and fill in the url of your page.

Your pages posts will load and you will be able to view them and their related stats (reach, number of people engaged, number of people talking about it).

Now use the create post button to load the following popup and input the data for your new post. Only the link type posts have more options that can be added from here. The others have the same options as when posting directly on the page. For links you can fill in the following info:

  • url – the actualy link
  • post text – the text that will show up above the link preview part
  • call to action – here you can select the text that will show up on the button from the link preview
  • link headline – this will show up as the title in the link preview
  • display link – here you can add a more detailed description of you link
  • description – this is to inform users why they should click on the link and what they should expect to find there
  • picture – here you can either write the url of a picture you wish to use or upload it from your computer

Then for posts you need to check the ‘This post will be published on the Page‘ option. After you click it you will be able to also enter targeting data like languages and location.

using the facebook power editor

After you click the create post button, the new post will show up in your editor, but it is not yet published on your page.

You can check the preview by clicking on the post.

When you are ready to publish the post, use the publish post button, you can either choose to post it immediately or schedule it for later.

Notice the upload changes button turns green.

using the facebook power editor

Click it and that’s it! 🙂 Your post will be successfully posted on the page or scheduled.

I hope this will help you improve your facebook posts. Let me know if you have questions or comments.

As I previously mentioned, the power editor can also be used for making better facebook ads. I haven’t tried that yet, but I did find a good article on how to do that! 😉

How to add confirmation emails to google forms

Have you ever used google forms to get some input from your users? It is really easy to set up a google form, add the required input fields and share the form with your users. Here’s an example of a google form.

After the users fill in the form, they will see a short confirmation message on the screen and their responses will be stored. You might also want your users to get a confirmation email after filling out the form. This is not the default behavior of google forms though so you will have to add a small script to do so.

If you fill in and submit the example form you will receive such a confirmation email and see what we are going to set up.

Here’s what you have to do:

  • from the form edit screen choose the tools menu option
  • pick script manager and click the new button
  • you will be redirected to a new page for adding the script
  • pick form in the popup
  • add a name for your script file
  • clear the code if there is any example code in there
  • add the following code:

The code is pretty straightforward: it received the user response as a parameter, it gets an array with the individual answers for each question (itemResponses), it gets the response for each question, sets the subject and the body of the email to be sent and sends the email to the user.

There’s is only one more step to go, we need to set a trigger for this function:

  • go to resources from the menu
  • pick current projects triggers
  • you will notice there are no triggers set up. click on click here to add one now
  • you need to select the method to run (onFormSubmit) and the trigger event from form and on form submit
  • you can also set the notification options – the default is to receive a daily email with the errors that come up, but for testing purposes you could set it to send error messages immediately
  • click save and authorize the app as requested

And that’s it! you now have the needed script. You need to go back to the forms edit page, from the scripts manager popup you need to refresh the scripts list and pick the newly added onFormSubmit script.

And you’re done! You’re ready to test out your form and send it out to your users!

Let me know if you have any questions! 🙂