Shared posts

29 Jul 21:51

Instagram launches one-touch photo sharing app Bolt in select countries

by Evan Selleck
Last week, a promotional banner for a previously unheard of app called Bolt appeared in Instagram user’s feeds. Now, the app is official, but the Facebook-owned Instagram is keeping the soft roll-out secluded to only a few countries. Continue reading →
26 Jul 19:10

Twitter Favorites: [patrickc] Google Maps turn-by-turn cycling directions, headphones, and city bikeshares are by far the best way I've found to discover a strange city.

Patrick Collison @patrickc
Google Maps turn-by-turn cycling directions, headphones, and city bikeshares are by far the best way I've found to discover a strange city.
26 Jul 18:34

Twitter Favorites: [moscaddie] a core feminist belief of mine is that men aren't inherently awful; they're socialised to be like that, it's reversible & they can be better

;( @moscaddie
a core feminist belief of mine is that men aren't inherently awful; they're socialised to be like that, it's reversible & they can be better
26 Jul 05:30

Twitter Favorites: [TheMarySue] Check out the final installment of @RebeccaPahle's 50 Female Directed Movies.

The Mary Sue @TheMarySue
Check out the final installment of @RebeccaPahle's 50 Female Directed Movies.…
27 Jul 07:24

Instapaper Liked: Close Encounters of the Missing Kind

My daily routine is a strange attractor.  Every morning, I decide whether to hit one of the cafes on my regular circuit or work at the desk I rent from a local…
27 Jul 16:48

Language barrier foiled supermarket hold-up

by arbroath (
mkalus shared this story from Nothing To Do With Arbroath.

An armed robber fled a Berlin supermarket empty-handed in frustration over his lack of German language skills.

The unidentified man entered the store in the city's Mitte district, placed a rucksack on the counter, produced a knife and started gesticulating wildly at the two female staff members, police said.

He then vaulted over the counter and continued a series of hand gestures that only further confused the women, aged 28 and 29. "The offender said something unintelligible but the threatened shopkeeper did not respond," police said in a statement.

One ran into the street calling for help, prompting the man to flee after abandoning both knife and backpack, which the staff later realized he had wanted them to fill with cash from the register. Police are still searching for the would-be robber after Tuesday's incident which happened at 7pm.
26 Jul 05:46

...3 Years at Mozilla

by Jeff Griffiths that went fast.

On July 26th 2011 I showed up for work at Mozilla's Castro St. office for my first day of work at Mozilla. My first job at Mozilla was on the evangelism team but also embedded into the Add-on SDK team. As I look around at where I ended up 3 years later the path makes sense - the bulk of my tech career has been in various positions helping developers hack on the open web, so ending up a Product Manager for Firefox Developer Tools is (to abuse an old stand-by) literally my dream job.

Mozilla has changed a lot in the last 3 years. When I joined I was something like the 340th employee and I have heard we're now over 800. It wasn't until a couple of months later that Andreas and others started the B2G project that went on to be re-named Firefox OS. Firefox was at version 5 and the project to re-write Firefox for Android was just being thought of.

In July 2011 the developer tools team had just shipped their first tool, the web console which for some reason opened up above the page. Fast-forward three years and we are about to ship a mobile-focused development environment, debugging features that reach across all major mobile platforms and we've built up a suite of tools to help developers with all corners of the web platform, from Audio and WebGL to CSS animations. As I look forward I am excited about many, many things: WebIDE, new performance tools, iOS & Android support just to name three.

Another project that is near and dear to my heart is what we call the Devtools SDK. Here our intention is to place the ability to create amazing and innovative tools firmly into the hands of developers themselves - because this is what the web community wants and deserves. We're taking a lot of inspiration from the Firebug and Chrome Devtools extension ecosystems, and we are particularly inspired by the architecture of the Ember Inspector extension - the Ember project made the smart choice of implementing most of the extension's logic as an Ember app, making it much more likely that the Ember community would be able to contribute to building their own tools.

The central idea that buzzes around my brain these days is this: how we can combine the generativity and creativity of the web developer community and the possibilities of Firefox as a platform. Firefox needs to have great tools, sure, but it also need to be the place where developers can create their own tools, integrated with all the other tools they use all the time and connected to the devices and platforms where people are using the web.

26 Jul 05:58

It’s still possible.

It’s still possible.

27 Jul 14:31

Time for digital emancipation

by Doc Searls

Civilization is a draft. Provisional. Scaffolded. Under construction. For example:


That’s Thomas Jefferson‘s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration hasn’t changed since July 4, 1776, but the Constitution built on it has been amended thirty-three times, so far. The thirteenth of those abolished slavery, at the close of the Civil War, seventy-seven years after the Constitution was ratified.

Today we are in another struggle for equality, this time on the Net. As Brian Grimmer put it to me, “Digital emancipation is the struggle of the century.”

There is an ironic distance between those first two words: digital and emancipation. The digital world by itself is free. Its boundaries are those of binary math: ones and zeroes. Connecting that world is a network designed to put no restrictions on personal (or any) power, while reducing nearly to zero the functional distance between everybody and everything. Costs too. Meanwhile, most of what we experience on the Net takes place on the World Wide Web, which is not the Net but a layer on top of it. The Web is built on architectural framework called client-server. Within that framework, browsers are clients, and sites are servers. So the relationship looks like this:


In other words, client-server is calf-cow. (I was once told that “client-server” was chosen because “it sounded better than ‘slave-master.’” If anyone has the facts on that, let us know.)

Bruce Schneier gives us another metapor for this asymmetry:

It’s a feudal world out there.

Some of us have pledged our allegiance to Google: We have Gmail accounts, we use Google Calendar and Google Docs, and we have Android phones. Others have pledged allegiance to Apple: We have Macintosh laptops, iPhones, and iPads; and we let iCloud automatically synchronize and back up everything. Still others of us let Microsoft do it all. Or we buy our music and e-books from Amazon, which keeps records of what we own and allows downloading to a Kindle, computer, or phone. Some of us have pretty much abandoned e-mail altogether … for Facebook.

These vendors are becoming our feudal lords, and we are becoming their vassals.

It’s handy being a vassal. For example, you get to use these shortcuts into websites that require logins:


To see how much personal data you risk spilling when you click on the Facebook one, visit iSharedWhat (by Joe Andrieu) for a test run. That spilled data can be used in many ways, including surveillance. The Direct Marketing Association tells us the purpose of surveillance is to give you a better “internet experience” through “interest-based advertising—ads that are intended for you, based on what you do online.” The DMA also provides tools for you to manage experiences of what they call “your ads,” by clicking on this tiny image here:


It appears in the corners of ads from companies in the DMA’s AdChoice program. Here is one:


The “AdChoices” text appears when you mouse over the icon. When I click on it, I get this:


Like most companies’ privacy policies, Scottrade’s says this: “Scottrade reserves the right to make changes to this Online Privacy Policy at any time.” But never mind that. Instead look at the links that follow. One of those leads to Opt Out From Behavioral Advertising By Participating Companies (BETA). There you can selectively opt out of advertising by dozens of companies. (There are hundreds of those, however. Most don’t allow opting out.)

I suppose that’s kind of them; but for you and me it’s a lot easier just to block all ads and tracking on our own, with a browser extension or add-on. This is why Adblock Plus tops Firefox’s browser add-ons list, which includes many other similar products as well. (The latest is Privacy Badger, from the EFF, which Don Marti visits here.)

Good as they are, ad and tracking blockers are still just prophylactics. They make captivity more bearable, but they don’t emancipate us. For that we need are first person technologies: ways to engage as equals on the open Net, including the feudal Web.

One way to start is by agreeing about how we respect each other. The Respect Trust Framework, for example, is a constitution of sorts, “designed to be self-reinforcing through use of a peer-to-peer reputation system.” Every person and company agreeing to the framework is a peer. Here are the five principles to which all members agree:

Promise We will respect each other’s digital boundaries

Every Member promises to respect the right of every other Member to control the Member Information they share within the network and the communications they receive within the network.

Permission We will negotiate with each other in good faith

As part of this promise, every Member agrees that all sharing of Member Information and sending of communications will be by permission, and to be honest and direct about the purpose(s) for which permission is sought.

Protection We will protect the identity and data entrusted to us

As part of this promise, every Member agrees to provide reasonable protection for the privacy and security of Member Information shared with that Member.

Portability We will support other Members’ freedom of movement

As part of this promise, every Member agrees that if it hosts Member Information on behalf of another Member, the right to possess, access, control, and share the hosted information, including the right to move it to another host, belongs to the hosted Member.

Proof We will reasonably cooperate for the good of all Members

As part of this promise, every Member agrees to share the reputation metadata necessary for the health of the network, including feedback about compliance with this trust framework, and to not engage in any practices intended to game or subvert the reputation system.

The Respect Network has gathered several dozen founding partners in a common effort to leverage the Respect Trust Framework into common use, and within it a market for VRM and services that help out. I’m involved with two of those partners: The Searls Group (my own consultancy, for which Respect Network is a client) and Customer Commons (in which I am a board member).

This summer Respect Network launched a crowd-funding campaign for this social login button:


It’s called the Respect Connect button, and it embodies all the principles above; but especially the first one: We will respect each others’ digital boundaries. This makes itthe first safe social login button.

Think of the Respect Connect button project as a barn raising. There are lots of planks (and skills) you can bring, but the main ones will be your =names (“equals names”). These are sovereign identifiers you own and manage for yourself — unlike, say, your Twitter @ handle, which Twitter owns. (Organizations — companies, associations, governments — have +names and things have *names.)

Mine is =Doc.

Selling =names are CSPs: Cloud Service Providers. There are five so far (based, respectively, in Las Vegas, Vienna, London, New York/Jerusalem and Perth):

bosonweb-logo danube_clouds-logo paoga-logo emmett_global-logo onexus-logo

Here’s a key feature: they are substituable. You can port your =name from one to the other as easily as you port your phone number from one company to another. (In fact the company that does this in the background for both your =name and your phone number is Neustar, another Respect Network partner.)

You can also self-host your own personal cloud.

I just got back from a world tour of places where much scaffolding work is going up around this and many other ways customers and companies can respect each other and grow markets. I’ll be reporting more on all of it in coming posts. Meanwhile, enjoy some photos.


27 Jul 00:00

Confound it! Correlation is (usually) not causation! But why not?


gwern branwen, LessWrong, Jul 30, 2014

When somebody proposes a simple mechanism to improve (say) learning outcomes, they're most always wrong. But why? It's because they have ascribed a simple cause-effect relation onto a complex phenomenon. But why should complexity impact causation? Complex phenomena are densely connected networks where correlations are increasingly likely to be the result of underlying conditions rather than the result of one thing causing another. This article makes the point, with mathematics, and a good example drawn from the literature on cancer research.

[Link] [Comment]
25 Jul 17:46

Twitter Favorites: [bmann] Hanging out @TakeFiveCafe couches, flashback to 10 years ago, Mobile Monday, Nokia phones, etc.

Boris Mann @bmann
Hanging out @TakeFiveCafe couches, flashback to 10 years ago, Mobile Monday, Nokia phones, etc.
26 Jul 19:24

on ingress as gamifying network location reporting

by dnorman

Jason tuned me into Ingress at CNIE 2014. There’s a good overview of the game on Wired.

It’s one of those things that sound unbelievably geeky – it’s like geocaching (a geeky repurposing of multibillion dollar GPS satellites to play hide and seek) combined with capture the flag, combined with realtime strategy games, bundled up as a mobile game app (kind of geeky as well), with a backstory of a particle collider inadvertently leading to the discovery of a new form of matter and energy (particle physics? a little geeky). It’s the kind of thing where peoples’ faces glaze over on the first description of portals and XM points, and resonators and links and fields.


One thing that’s been stuck in the back of my head as I worked my way up to Level 5 Nerd of the Resistance in the game, is the lack of an apparent business model. It’s a global-scale game, with thousands? millions? of users checking in from all around the world. There don’t appear to be ads in the game – I’ve never seen any – and there appears to be an unwritten rule that portals should be publicly accessible. That unwritten rule largely negates a business model that would have businesses pay for placement in the game in order to draw customers into their stores etc…

Niantic started the game in 2013, and launched it under the “release it free so we build a user base, then sell the company” business plan. It worked, as Google bought the company and ramped the game up. It’s now available for both Android and iOS platforms, free of charge, with no advertising or premium subscriptions or in-game purchases.

So, what is Google getting out of it? I think their largest draw is likely in crowdsourced geolocation of networks. They have every Ingress user actively (collectively) wandering the globe, reporting every wireless SSID and cell tower they come across, along with GPS coordinates. The game gently pushes players to stay at the location of a portal, confirming the geolocation and refining precision over time. It’s kind of a genius plan – it is constantly updating Google’s network geolocation database, which can then be used to more accurately track and target all users of the internet for advertising etc…. They’ve turned a bunch of nerd’s nerds into a crowdsourced network geolocation reporting system. And, at Google’s scale, it costs them a pittance to have this system running.

paging the mothership

Ingress’ privacy policy link points to Google’s common privacy policy and TOS web page, which states:

We may collect device-specific information (such as your hardware model, operating system version, unique device identifiers, and mobile network information including phone number). Google may associate your device identifiers or phone number with your Google Account.


When you use a location-enabled Google service, we may collect and process information about your actual location, like GPS signals sent by a mobile device. We may also use various technologies to determine location, such as sensor data from your device that may, for example, provide information on nearby Wi-Fi access points and cell towers.

Common TOS for all Google services, but especially relevant in a geolocation-based game that is actively pushing users to wander their neighbourhoods to gather this data and send it back to Google.

If they’d released the app as a “report network locations to improve google’s ad targeting” tool, it would have gotten huge pushback, and not many people would have downloaded it. But, by hiding that function and wrapping an insanely addictive game over top of it, it’s gone viral.

brb. I need to go recharge the portal at the playground down the street…

27 Jul 06:58

My slides for IoT and machine learning – Computational Intelligence conference #CIUUK14

by ajit

I spoke at the Computational intelligence  on Sat at BT HQ in St Paul Londonand it was a very interesting event
I was surprised to see more than 300 people in London on a sunny afternoon for what is essentially a VERY geeky topic!
My talk (IoT and Machine Learning) got a lot of +ve feedback as per
Thura Z. Maung @thuramg 11h Enjoyed the talks #CIUUK14 today, particularly Artificial Super Intelligence and IoT/Machine Learning…
Brett Hutley @hitechnomad 12h I enjoyed the conference #CIUUK14 my favourite talk was probably the Internet of Things and Machine Learning
Robert Thomas @dizzybanjo 13h Arrived at #CIUUK14 interesting talk about machine
Diogo Neves @DiogoSnows 13h .@AjitJaokar what a great talk you just gave! thanks!!!!
Joe Da Silva @joemagicdevelop Brilliant talk by Ajit Jaokar on #MachineLearning applied to the #enterprise and #gov #CIUUK14
Pls sign up at futuretext
I am working on a larger paper on IoT and Machine Learning
shall email it when its released
27 Jul 05:47

Google and Motorola are reportedly working on a 5.9-inch Nexus handset

by Rajesh Pandey
Earlier this year, rumors started floating around that Google might be killing its Nexus line-up of devices in favor of a new Android Silver program. The rumor was shot down by Google’s David Burake who confirmed at I/O that the program is far from dead, and the leaked specs and renders of an HTC-made Nexus tablet further reinstated that fact. Continue reading →
26 Jul 16:24

How to Survive Air Travel - For Real

by Stephen Downes

Photo: Wikipedia

I've travelled quite a bit by air, I enjoy the travel, but agree it can get uncomfortable and frustrating at times. That said, Craig Mod's advice on Medium just isn't realistic, so I have a few tips.

  • First, accept that it takes a certain amount of time to travel half way across the country or around the world. Many frustrations are created by unrealistic expectations. Eight hours to get to Denver? Yeah! Compared to the two-day drive it would otherwise take. Seventeen hours to Istanbul? Sure! Much better than the week or two it would take by boat. Don't lose your sense of wonder. You're travelling by air! It's like being in the future.
  • Second, be realistic about the time it takes. Airlines have the concept of  'gate to gate' to take into account for taxi time. You should have the concept of door to door' to take into account your taxi time. How many times have I observed people arriving at the airport, already late, because they did not take into account traffic and local conditions? When I can, I take trains to the airport rather than cars or taxi, because trains are much more reliable. I take into account things like rush hour or service interruptions. Don't leave ground transportation to the last minute. Plan ahead, book ahead. Make sure you're going to the right terminal.
  • Third, unless you know your airport really well, plan to check in no later than an hour ahead of time for domestic flights, two hours for international flights. Some airports require even earlier arrival check.If you arrive earlier, that's fine, but keep in mind that check-in for a flight won't happen any earlier than three hours before departure, so don't panic if you arrive four hours earlier and can't find your flight.
  • Mod's advice about being relaxed and being calm is very well taken. Airports have signs, which you can find pretty easily if you're moving at a relaxed pace, but are impossible to detect if you are in a rush. Instead of search the whole airport looking for the thing you want (like a check-in counter) look for a sign. They're usually strategically located, at entrances (and therefore, probably behind you if you're in a rush). If you can't find a sign, find an information desk or security and ask. Don't ask a detailed question: just the basics (especially if language is an issue). I ask "Air Canada?" rather than "Can you tell me there to check into flight AC465 to Istanbul?"
  • If you can check-in in advance, do so, and print your own boarding pass. Pick your search ahead of time, if you can. When you arrive, if there are self-check-in kiosks, use them if you haven't checked in ahead of time. No matter what, when you approach the ticket counter, be ready. Have your itinerary and/or boarding passes and travel documents such as passports and visas in your hand (it's amazing how many people spend an hour in line and then spend time in front of the counter searching for their information, as though they hadn't expected that they might need it). I have a special blue pouch just for these: passport, itinerary, boarding passes, nothing else. It has a string so if my hands are full I can hang it around my neck.
  • At the check-in: be nice and pleasant. Introduce yourself and where you're going ("Hello, my name is Downes, D-O-W-N-E-S, and I'm on AC 8799 to Toronto, final destination Istanbul. I'm checking one bag." - often, that's all they need and you've just done half their job for them). Know what you want; if you don't have your seats assigned yet, ask for what you want (I always say, "If possible, could I have a window seat please?") and do this right away. Smile. You're happy to be here, at the front of the line, just a few minutes away from where you want to be, you're happy this person is there to help you.
  • If you need something special, just ask, and then wait really patiently. If they say they can't do it, it's because they can't do it; asking a second time won't change that. If they appear non-responsive, it's because they're trying to do what you ask - the computer system is slow and awkward and it takes time to change a flight, move a seat, etc. Waiting patiently while any airport service staff does their job is the key. Here's the trick: generally, there's nothing you can say that will speed up what they're doing, and most anything you say will slow it down. Just be clear, state what you need once, and accept the response for what it is.
  • In security. You should have regular 'travel clothes' that you know won't set off the alarm. Before you get to security, take all your pocket contents and put them in your shoulder bag. Or your coat pockets, if they zip (always travel with zip-up coat pockets). This is especially important for wallets, etc. They will ask for your boarding pass, so have that ready. When you get to the tray, pull out your computer, and put it with your boarding pass holder on the first tray, by itself. Shoulder bag and jacket on the next tray, carry-on luggage last (pull out the liquids and put them in the shoulder-bag tray, on top). If you plan ahead like this it will take about ten seconds to set up everything, you'll breeze through screening, and be one of the good ones that security people love.
  • Note: only Americans remove their shoes. If you're not American, or not in the United States, leave your shoes on. Unless you have steel toes.
  • Luggage. Need I say, pack light? But even better, pack well. Weigh your luggage before you depart (hand-held luggage scales are cheap and can be found in any airport). Put all your liquids and gels (except for the absolutely necessary) into your checked luggage. Otherwise, use the clear plastic bag and put them in an outside pouch so you don't have to search for them at security. Don't overstuff your carry-on, and don't try to cheat on the size, because if you do, it won't fit into the overhead or under the seat. I carry a shoulder bag with my computer and essentials, and a rolling small piece of luggage. Note that on small aircraft you'll be separated from your small luggage, even if it's carry-on, so put priority items in your shoulder bag.
  • Seat selection is very very personal, but as a rule, if you can, take a window. I know that this runs contrary to a lot of travel advice, but if you want to be left alone during your flight (especially if you want to be left alone) the window is where you want to be. On the aisle you will be constantly bumped by people are service carts, and you will be asked to get up to let your seatmates out. At the window you can lean up against the side and close your eyes.  Exception: if you plan to get up a lot, take an aisle. Second exception: if you are travelling on a small plane, take an aisle, because the curvature of the fuselage really cuts into seat space.
  • Power up your devices before-hand. Yes, I said devices. In addition to your regular mobile phone, invest in a backup nano, just in case it dies or gets stolen. Bring extra earbuds. Some airlines have special two-pronged sound systems, so get an adapter (available in airports) (I'm looking at you Lufthansa). For long flights I also like to bring a tablet so I can preload and watch my own movies. Also, you can now buy portable power supplies, to recharge your devices en route. I also bring a pen and crosswords, just in base, and buy newspapers in the airport. 
  • Keep in mind (again) the total time of travel - you will be listening to audio or reading your phone in the check-in line, in the security line, in the passport line, in the boarding lounge, in the boarding line, and in your seat. Remember, it's not a three-hour flight. It's a six hour trip, door to door.
  • In the airport, pre-flight, walk. Maybe not the whole time, but some of the time. I always find my gate first, then settle down to relax later (caution: any time you enter through a guarded door, ask (a) are there services past this door, and (b) can I return through the door if I need to - if the answer to both is 'no' don't go through the door until it's close to boarding time). If you're eating, take the time to find healthy food. Remember food safety, even in your own country: food should be cooked and still hot, avoid deep-fried food, choose solid cuts of meat, not burgers or 'fingers', avoid breads and buns and muffins.
  • Dress light but not too light. Every summer I see people surprised that airplanes are air conditioned and can get cold in the sky (where it's -50 outside the window). Dress in cotton rather than synthetics (unless the synthetics handle sweat really well). Make sure whatever you wear has a pocket above the waistline (to hold your electronics - your pants pockets will be under the seatbelts and hard to get to). Wear shoes, not flip-flops (to protect your toes from dropped luggage, boots, etc).
  • Do not store your stuff in the seat pouch. I repeat:  Do not store your stuff in the seat pouch. If you store stuff in your seat pouch, consider it lost. You will forget it. Also, people steal stuff on airplanes (yes, it has happened to me). 
  • And please, for the sake of everyone else, be clean. Bathe or shower before the flight and brush your teeth. Avoid the garlic, just for the day. And like your mother said, go to the bathroom before you go out. Believe me, nobody wants to smell that for the duration of a hot sticky six-hour flight.
  • Don't put your luggage under the seat. I know the airlines are always telling you to do this, but it's far better to take less and put it in the overhead. Why? There's often electronics under the seats these days, and hence, no room for luggage. So you will end up spending the whole flight clutching your knees.
  • The most important advice of all: the in-flight posture when you get into your seat (preferably a window, otherwise wait until your seatmates have taken their places): your feet are in front of you, not tucked under the seat (to avoid foot wars with the person behind you). Your arms are crossed, holding your device, or in your lap (to avoid armrest wars with your neighbour). You have your audio playing. Close your eyes. Now you hear only the sound, see only darkness. The rest of the aircraft and the passengers are gone. You are alone. Breathe. Relax. You have nothing you have to do, nothing you need to worry about, for the next few hours. Enjoy this period of absolute calm.

    This posture takes practice. It's like a form of meditation, but you don't have to think of it that way. You might get a few minutes' sleep; that's OK. Over time you will become attuned to the minor changes in environment; the smells and sounds telling you to open your eyes for meal service, for example. You don't have to stay this way for the entire flight - I don't, usually - but stay this way as long as you want. You don't have to listen to audio; if I have to keep my earbuds out I just adopt the same posture and listen to my own thoughts. Some people use earplugs; I don't. Some people use sleeping masks; I don't.

    This one tip has transformed flying from a stress-filled nightmare to the time of day I look forward to the most.
  • Stay hydrated. I always buy one bottle, sometimes two bottles, of water (you can also bring your own bottle and fill them up in the washroom, but I like the convenience). You should also bring cough drops or lozenges. I haven't tried the mask solution Mod recommends, but I can't see it being especially effective. Usually I'll have some water left at the end of the flight, which I drink on the descent, which helps with ear-popping.
  • Go ahead and eat the airline food, if you want (and if they even serve it) on the longer flights, unless you have serious issues with the taste or content of it. If you bring snacks, bring things like nuts and dried berries, which will fill you up and give you energy without loading you up with junk food (they're also small and easy to carry). Better, if you can, eat before the flight.
  • After the flight, remember that you are still en route. Your trip is not over. When you planned ahead, you should planned for this step as well, so you should know whether you're looking for a taxi or a train or your own car. Again, watch for the signs, especially in an unfamiliar airport. If you have baggage, follow the baggage sign relentlessly (be careful: U.S. airports can have different baggage areas for different airlines, so watch for which baggage area you're seeking). 
  • And be careful, especially if you're on the road. People with luggage are prime targets for pickpockets. While you're fussing with your luggage, they're lifting your wallet. Don't carry anything in outside pockets, don't carry stuff on your back or in your back pocket. I assemble everything into a single rolling piece - my bug luggage on rollers, my small luggage tied to my big luggage with a bungee cord, my shoulder bag on top of my big luggage, one hand always free. I use two-wheels rather than four because while four is convenient in airports, it's extra weight, and not useful on rough sidewalks or cobblestones.
  • If I'm travelling to a new place, then I use Google Maps ahead of time to find my hotel. Make sure you do this even if they say they'll meet you at the airport (because, sometimes they don't). Go straight to your hotel if you're on the road, check in, settle in, and call home to report that you've arrived safely. Because people worry.
The one key to what Craig Mod said was to assert the maxim: be calm. I agree with that. But being calm isn't simply a matter of willing yourself to be calm, as he suggests. It's the result of planning and preparation, knowing what you need to do and doing it, as much as possible, ahead of time. And be nice. If you go in there with attitude, you're going to get attitude. If you go in there with a big smile and a generous spirit, the seas will part in front of you.

26 Jul 00:00

Municipal nets, municipal electric power, and learning from history


David Weinberger, Joho the Blog, Jul 29, 2014

David Weinberger writes, "The debate over whether municipalities should be allowed to provide Internet access has been heating up. Twenty states ban it. Tom Wheeler, the chair of the FCC, has said he wants to “ preempt” those laws. Congress is maneuvering to extend the ban nationwide." This is not just a U.S. issue because similar pressures exist worldwide. There`s a good list of four lessons from the deployment of electricity: private firms won't provide universal service (or even close to it); unregulated growth leads to the emergence of huge monopolies; these monopolists will use their wealth to influence policy; and the best way to keep process low and service high is to ensure competition from the public sector. All these are also true of learning and learning resources.

[Link] [Comment]
26 Jul 18:42

Nokia Canada confirms availability of Cyan update for Lumia 1020 users (Update: Not quite)

by Jane McEntegart

A little less than two weeks ago, Nokia revealed that the Windows Phone 8.1 Cyan update had started rolling out to Lumia devices. Unfortunately, there was nothing about a Canada-specific roll-out. Just that it would be available for all Windows Phone 8 Lumia devices “in the coming weeks.”

The official roll-out schedule still has ‘under testing’ for every Lumia device on all Canadian carriers, but Nokia Canada revealed via Twitter that the update is now available to all Lumia 1020 users.

If you’re not the kind of person to wait patiently for a software update, you can manually check for an update via Settings -> Phone Update. The update is in two parts and it will automatically check for part two once part one is finished installing. Nokia warns that the entire process could take one to two hours. Just something to be mindful of in case you planned to update on a whim.

Cyan is part of Mirosoft’s Windows Phone 8.1 update but is designed for Lumia devices and offers improvements to Lumia-specific apps like Nokia Camera, Creative Studio, and Device Hub.

Update: Well, that’s unfortunate. Nokia has removed mention of the update from its social feeds, and apologized for giving bad information. Hopefully it won’t take much longer. -Daniel

26 Jul 16:50

Rust Revisted: Ch…ch…ch…changes Or No More Sockets Anymore

by Simon Lewis
Looking at Swift and some of its more Rust-like features, e.g., tuples, reminded me that its been over a year since I last looked at Rust. In that time its gone from version 0.07 to 0.11 and there have been lots of changes including the disappearance of all the socket functions. In their place we […]
25 Jul 02:30

Instapaper Liked: Manifesto for an Intercultural Urbanism

Blogger Intercultural Urbanism is an interdisciplinary perspective on city planning and design that investigates the relationship between cultural diversity…
24 Jul 02:13

Twitter Favorites: [bmann] @leelefever @buster ditto - I remember coming down to Seattle and being taught credit card roulette over pizza ;)

Boris Mann @bmann
@leelefever @buster ditto - I remember coming down to Seattle and being taught credit card roulette over pizza ;)
26 Jul 03:20

New Orleans: nine years after hurricane, transit is far from restored

by Jarrett at

by Evan Landman

A sobering new report was released recently by Ride New Orleans, a nonprofit advocate group. It covers the erosion of the city's transit network in the years following 2005's Hurricane Katrina, revealing that while the city's population and economy have largely recovered, its transit services have not. 

Some key points from the report:

  • In 2004, RTA's peak fleet was 301 buses. By 2012, that number had dropped to just 79.
  • Revenue hours declined from over 1 million prior to the storm to fewer than 600,000 in 2012.
  • By 2012, only 36% of the pre-storm daily trips had been restored.
  • In 2012, no bus routes in the entire system operated at 15 minute or better frequency, down from 12 previously.
  • Meanwhile, overall service level on the city's historic streetcar routes declined by only 9%, and the number of available vehicles (66) is the same today as in 2005.

Ride's frequency maps tell the story even more viscerally:

Image (1)

What accounts for the difference between the relatively robust network of 2005 and today's service offering? Obviously no transit agency would have an easy time recovering from the damage done to its vehicles and operational infrastructure by a catastrophic event like Katrina. It would be ludicrous to suggest otherwise. But nearly a decade on, something has prevented RTA from ramping back up to its prior service level.

Ride's analysis points to a number of factors. First is a decline in fare revenues, attributable both to the smaller population of the city since the storm, the diminished service offering, and a base fare of just $1.25 which hasn't increased since 1999. Second, since the storm, RTA's operating costs have increased dramatically, to around $168/revenue hour. This is much higher than many peer agencies, and as such limits the amount of service RTA is able to deploy with its current resources.  The report also raises questions about the agency's decision to prioritize the restoration of the historic streetcar system. 

It's clear that RTA has faced unique challenges; even the transit systems effected by Hurricane Sandy did not have to deal with the mass population displacement or degree of infrastructure damage New Orleans sustained. But while the city's transit service is today in dire straits, if Ride's analysis is correct, it cannot long continue, as it appears RTA is now operating at a deficit, and rapidly drawing down its reserves.

Thus, an opportunity exists on the horizon, for RTA and for the city of New Orleans: to reimagine transit in a manner that helps more people travel to more destinations more easily, and to develop a durable system less vulnerable to disruption. Clearly this would be a difficult undertaking, but if continuing down the present path implies continuing to provide vastly inadequate service, at an exhorbitant cost, perhaps it is a necessary one.

26 Jul 01:22

Badger Beats: The Week In Review [50]

It’s Friday - time for the Badger Beats!

We’ve had a busy week, prepping for SXSWedu 2015 (did you hear? The deadline was extended!) and next week’s live session of the Open Badges MOOC - Meg, the Badge Alliance Director of Marketing and Operations, will be leading a discussion on the Cities of Learning initiative with cities representatives. Read more details at

What else went on this week?

  • On this week's community project call, Frank Catalano shared some top-line industry recommendations detailed in a recent paper he was commissioned to write for education companies - read an overview here;
  • Carla Casilli, the Badge Alliance’s director of design and practice, is leading efforts for our wider community to collaborate on developing a campus / school policy for badges - read more in the community call summary or listen to the audio recording;

  • Our technical writer Sue Smith is a superstar - check out some of the updated documentation she’s worked on in recent weeks here;

  • Dr. Bernard Bull made 5 predictions about the educational credentialing landscape in 2024 in a recent blog post;

  • Merilyn Childs wrote a blog post on the importance and revolutionary qualities of badges - Badges for the 3Rs: Rebel, Resist, Rethink;
  • In a piece for the Washington Post, Valerie Strauss argues that the US “appears to be standing alone in its obsessive use of standardized tests as important measures of accountability in education”;

  • The Achievery blog looked at how badges could be used to identify talent and predict job performance - read more;
  • As part of a continuing series on STEM and STEAM, Microsoft Chicago featured a guest blog from Beth Swanson, of the Chicago Mayor’s office: Connecting Learning through Chicago City of Learning;

  • A piece on Edudemic generated a lot of buzz in the Twittersphere this week: tweet us your thoughts on Why The Future Of Education Involves Badges (or not!)

Have a great weekend everyone - and don’t forget, if you’re working on a session proposal for SXSWedu, get them in by noon CST on Sunday!

Bring on the voting in Panel Picker!

25 Jul 22:24

Open Badges Community Project Call, July 23, 2014

Open Badges Community Project Call, July 23, 2014:



This week we were joined by Frank Catalano, who was recently commissioned by MDR's EdNET Insight service to write an extensive analysis of badges for education companies, as well as the Badge Alliance's Director of Design & Practice, Carla, who is kicking off a community-wide project to develop a campus policy for open badges (more details on how to get involved below.)

Although his paper is not intended for a general audience, Frank’s experience helped highlight some of the challenges still to be overcome as we work towards integrating badges into more education environments. A (free) overview of his paper can be found on EdNET Insight here with Frank’s top-line industry recommendations.

Challenges still facing the ecosystem

Frank shared his analysis of some of the biggest challenges facing those education companies wishing to bring badges into learning environments, starting with terminology, which is still a major tripping point for many being introduced to badges, who find terms such as ‘badge’ and ‘backpack’ juvenile or trivializing compared to the value that can be found in badges once the concept is fully understood.

As Carla pointed out during the call, language is complex and doesn’t always translate across boundaries, whether industrial or geographic. To that end, the Badge Alliance will be initiating collaborative work on a document that helps us translate badging concepts and terminology to other geographic regions and industries.

The question of an open ecosystem vs. keeping badges in silos also arose - some companies prefer to keep their badges in a closed system, for a variety of reasons, and until the need for an open, interoperable ecosystem reached a critical tipping point, it is likely that we will continue to see growth on both sides of this.

For many, Frank saw as he was conducting his research, badges are a nice addition to existing services, rather than a ‘must-have’ feature - and for others, there is still a lack of a basic understanding of open badges, which is a knowledge gap his paper aims to help close for the education companies his analysis was commissioned for. This paper puts badging in terminology that education companies understand, which will both inform those companies and provide a reference point for our ongoing work to ‘translate’ badging across sectors and continents.

Badges for campus initiatives

Another education landscape that will need concentrated efforts across the board is campus-wide badge policies others can model and build from. Carla Casilli, the director of design and practice at the Badge Alliance, is leading efforts for our wider community to collaborate on developing a campus / school policy for badges - contact her directly if you’d like to get involved via email:

If there are other areas you think would benefit from policy work, why not join the Badge Alliance Working Group on Policy? Go to to apply.

If you have a badges project to share with the community - big or small - let us know! Email to get on the schedule.

25 Jul 21:31

Updated Open Badges Documentation

Our technical writer Sue Smith is a superstar - check out some of the updated documentation she’s worked on in recent weeks:

Updated documentation for Backpack repo:
There are also some updates to the in-code documentation here:

Anything missing?

If there’s anything in github you want to see updated or more thoroughly documented, let us know:
25 Jul 21:21

SXSWedu deadline extended!

We’ve been busy preparing our badges-themed session submissions this week, so we’re happy to share the good news: the deadline has been extended!

That’s right, you have until 11:59PM CST this Sunday, July 27 to finalize and submit your idea to be considered for SXSWedu 2015.

Before you click the “Submit My Proposal” button, be sure to:

1. Review the 2015 Session Starter Kit for a detailed step-by-step guide through the submission form, equipped with audience demographics and helpful tips on how to shape your best idea.
2. Proof read every portion of your proposal for proper spelling and grammar, as well as accuracy.
4. Click the “Save and Continue” button at the bottom of each section if you make any changes.
5. Check all the boxes on the “Agreements” page and utilize the “Review my Proposal” option on that same page. Once you click the “Submit My Proposal” button, you will no longer be able to make changes to your proposal.

Direct any further questions to

Good luck, everyone! We’ll let you know when we’ve heard back about our session proposals.

25 Jul 21:42

Tesla Command lets you control your Model S from your Android Wear watch

by Jane McEntegart

Android Wear is still in its infancy. It’s relatively new, and there isn’t really a ton of apps available for the platform right now. There also isn’t very many Android Wear devices. As time goes on, all that will change. For now, almost every new app is exciting for users. Even if all it does is turn your phone’s WiFi hotspot on and off.

Today’s exciting Android Wear app comes from the folks over at Toronto’s BNotions. They’ve made an app that will allow you to control certain functions of your Tesla Model S, like opening and closing the sunroof, or beeping the horn, right from your watch. You can also lock and unlock the car.

You do have to launch the app on your watch before you can do any of this stuff. That doesn’t seem to take too long, though it’s hard to tell given they cut the wait time out of the video (either that or the watch didn’t understand the command on the first take, and they cut that out). If it does take a while then this has the potential to be like waiting for your Uber while empty cabs whizz past. Why rely on technology when the old fashioned way is quicker?

Still, it’s a pretty cool example of what developers are doing with Android Wear. Now we just have to figure out which car in our Tesla Model S fleet will be the test subject for this app.

25 Jul 18:02

The Fermi Paradox

by Matt Mullenweg

Do you know what the Fermi Paradox is? Take 20 minutes to read this article and I promise you’ll never look at the stars the same way again.

25 Jul 20:04

Google’s Play Store has a new section for games that don’t require data

by Jane McEntegart

Google has tweaked its Play Store categories this week, adding a whole new section for games that can be played offline or without a data connection. Though there are probably countless games that can be played while you’re off the grid.

This new offline games section section has just 54 titles for now, including the highly popular Dots and as well as Freeze, Dumb Ways to Die, Robot Unicorn Attack, and Minecraft. The majority of these games are also free, with just eight of them costing money. None of the paid games are priced over $5.

Not only is this useful for when you find yourself without data or WiFi (say, for example, if you take the subway with any sort of regularity), but it’s also going to be extremely useful for parents with kids that love to play mobile games, and people with a limited amount of data each month.

25 Jul 00:00

MOOCs get schoolified: Two reports predict MOOCs will simply be absorbed

Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, Jul 28, 2014

You have to actually read this to realize how silly this sounds. Here it is: "MOOCs are like free gyms, says Mr. Kelly. They might enable some people— mostly people who are already healthy and able to work out without much guidance— to exercise more. But they won’ t do much for people who need intensive physical therapy or the care of a doctor." Well of course, then, MOOCs will just be absorbed by the syste... wait. What?

If we actually read this analogy, it is suggesting that the vast majority of us need constant and ongoing intensive physical therapy or the care of a doctor. If health and fitness worked that way, we would all die. But what is actually the case is that we only occasionally need these specialized services, can access a gym if we need, but for day-to-day purposes have a wide range of (generally free or low cost) games and activities, parks and recreation, or tools like balls, bats, bicycles, etc., which we decide how to use for ourselves. Oh yes, I can see the objection - "sports and recreation would never work in society - just think of all the training required just to learn the rules!" Yeah, it's a hurdle all right.

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25 Jul 16:21

How to Provide Kick-ass Customer Support: Part 2

by Mike Jandreau
Process/Customer Interaction Theme This is the second installment of a three part series. You can check out how to master the tools in part 1, but here you’ll be able to more quickly work through cases.  But that’s not where the buck stops.  Being able to work fast is only half the battle. Here we’ll walk... Read more »