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31 Aug 00:00

Moocs are free – but for how much longer?


Chris Parr, Times Higher Education, [Sept] 02, 2014

You can't just say “ Moocs have started out as a free opportunity – and free is a great way to get people interested,” as Stanford's John Mitchell does. MOOC means free. If academia wants to charge tuition for instruction, I won't complain, since academia has been doing that for 2,500 years. But they don't get to call such courses open or MOOCs. Because they're not!

[Link] [Comment]
31 Aug 16:12

You are Bad at Giving Technical Interviews

by rands

Laurie Voss via Quartz:

You are looking for grasp of complex topics and the ability to clearly communicate about them, which are the two jobs of the working engineer.


29 Aug 16:01

Twitter Favorites: [icathing] “I have always preferred libraries to classrooms”

Bill Stilwell @icathing
“I have always preferred libraries to classrooms”…
28 Aug 23:39

Twitter Favorites: [willhains] Advice for aspiring programmers: work in one language; play in another.

Will Hains @willhains
Advice for aspiring programmers: work in one language; play in another.
28 Aug 22:16

Instapaper Liked: Don’t believe the ‘conspiracy,’ gaming has bigger problems than ‘corruption’

Gaming is a hobby I’ve had (on and off) for most of my life, but I’ve never called myself a gamer. One reason is that while playing video games is something I…
31 Aug 14:25

My linkblog is in transition. Here's the newest stuff. The two streams will probably be joined tomorrow.

31 Aug 06:55

How SUPL Reveals My Identity And Location To Google When I Use GPS

by mobilesociety

In a previous post I was delighted to report that assisted GPS (A-GPS) has become fast enough so I no longer have to rely on Google's Wi-Fi location service that in return requires me to send Wi-Fi and location data back to Google periodically. Unfortunately it turns out that the A-GPS implementation of one of my Android smartphones sends the ID of my SIM card (the IMSI) to the A-GPS server. From a technical point of view absolutely unnecessary and a gross privacy violation.

Read on for the details...

How Assisted GPS (A-GPS) works

To get a position fix, the GPS chip in a device needs to acquire the signal of at least three satellites. If the GPS chip is unaware of the identities of the satellites and their orbits this task can take several minutes. To speed things up a device can get information about satellites and their current location from an A-GPS server on the Internet. The single piece of information the server requires is a rough location estimate from the device. Usually a device is not aware of its rough location but it knows other things that can help such as the current cellular network id (MCC and MNC) and the id of the cell that is currently used. This information is sent to the A-GPS server on the Internet that then determines the location of the cell or network with a cell id / location database.The location off the cell or network is precise enough to assemble the satellite information that applies to the user's location which is then returned over the Internet connection. The satellite information is then fed to the GPS chip which can then typically find the signals of the GPS satellites in just a few seconds.

No Private Information Required

It's important to realize at this point that no personal information such as a user's ID is required in this process. The only information that can be traced back to a person, if the A-GPS client is implemented with privacy in mind, is the IP address from which the request was made to the server. In practice a mobile device is usually assigned a private IP address which is mapped to a public IP address from which the request seems to have originated. This public IP address is shared with many other users. Hence, only the network operator can identify which user has originated the request while the A-GPS server never gains any insight into who has sent the request.

The SUPL protocol and Privacy Breaching Information Fields

A standardized method for a device to gather A-GPS information from a server is the Secure User Plane Location protocol (SUPL). Several companies provide A-GPS SUPL servers answering requests on TCP port 7275 such as Google ( and Nokia/Microsoft ( In the case of my Android smartphone, is used. As the 'S' in 'SUPL' suggests, the protocol uses an encrypted connection for the request. As a consequence, using Wireshark without any additional tools to decode the request won't work as the content of the exchange is encrypted. Fortunately there's SUPL-PROXY, an open source piece of software by Tatu Mannisto that can be used in combination with domain redirection to proxy the SUPL SSL connection and decode the request and response messages. And on top, the SSL certificate generated by Tatu's software for the proxying can be fed into Wireshark which will then also decode the SUPL messages. And what I saw here very much disappointed me:

My SIM Card ID In The SUPL Request And No SSL Certificate Check

I almost anticipated it but I was still surprised and disappointing so see my SIM card's ID, the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) in the request. This is shown in the first screenshot below. As explained above, the IMSI or any other personal information is not necessary at all for the request so I really wonder why it is included!? And just to make sure this is really the case I ran another test without a SIM card in the device and also got a valid SUPL return with the IMSI field set to 0's.

The second screenshot shows the cell id in the request which is required for the SUPL request. The IMSI in combination with the cell ID provides the owner of the SUPL server (i.e. Google in my case) a permanent personal identifier and as a consequence the ability to pinpoint and record my location whenever a SUPL request is made. And in this day and age, it's pretty certain that my network operator is not the only entity that is aware of my IMSI...

The third screenshot below shows the first part of the SUPL response which includes the location of the cell that served me when I recorded the SUPL request. Just type the two coordinates into Google search and you'll end up with a nice map of the part of Austria where I was when I put together this post. The second part, not shown in the screenshot, contains the satellite information for the GPS receiver.

And the cream on top is that the SUPL client on my Android device did NOT check the SSL certificate validity. I did not include the server certificate in the trusted certificate list so the client should have aborted the request during the SSL negotiation phase. But it didn't and thus anyone between me and the SUPL server at Google can get my approximate location by spoofing the request in the same way I did. I'm sure that two years ago, most people would have laughed and said that it's unlikely this could happen or that someone else but my network operator would know my IMSI, but one year post-Snowden I don't think anyone's laughing anymore...

When The Baseband Makes The Query

And now to the really scary part: The next thing I tried was if I could reproduce this behavior with other Android devices at hand. To my surprise the two I had handy would not send a SUPL request over Wi-Fi and also not over the cellular network (which I traced with tcpdump on the device). After some more digging I found out that some cellular radio chips that include a GPS receiver seem to perform the requests themselves over an established cellular IP connection. That means that there is NO WAY to trace the request and ascertain if it contains personal information or not. This is because the request completely bypasses the operating system of the device if it is made directly by the radio chip. At this point in time I have no evidence that the two devices from which I did not see SUPL requests actually use such a baseband chip A-GPS implementation and if there are personal indentifiers in the message or not. However, I'm determined to find out.

     Supl-issue-1-imsi-removed Supl-issue-2 Supl-issue-3




And for those of you who'd like to try yourselves I'll have a follow up post that describes the details of my trace setup with two Raspberry PI's, Wireshark, and the SUPL-PROXY software mentioned above.

31 Aug 00:13

What It Needs: Nexus X

by Jane McEntegart

IFA is going to churn up a lot of dust in the smartphone world. We’re expecting new devices from Samsung, Motorola, Microsoft, Sony, and Huawei, among others. However, one of the most anticipated Android phones, Google’s newest flagship Nexus phone (dubbed the Nexus X), won’t be available for a few more months.

Though you’ll be hard pressed to find a Nexus fan that is frustrated with the wait (for a long time, Google was rumoured to be finished with the Nexus line), you don’t have to look too far to find a fan with a few ‘must haves’ for the next flagship Nexus.

A great price

One thing the Nexus line has gotten a reputation for over the last couple of years is its great pricing. Whether it’s the Nexus 7 or the Nexus 5, Google has really concentrated on packing great specs into a well priced, well constructed package. The Nexus 5 had its shortcomings, but it was still the best Android phone for $350 when it launched. We know we’re expecting some pretty hefty upgrades with the Nexus X but we’re really hoping that doesn’t drive the price through the roof. If it does, it will take away one of the most wicked aspects of the Nexus line, which is a legitimately high-end phone, off contract, for a mid-range price. Honestly, our hope is that the price will stay the same, but we recognise that may be blind optimism. It just needs to be under $400.

Better battery life

Alongside great pricing, battery life is top of our list of priorities. The Nexus X needs a battery that will last all day, or at least most of the day. This was by far the the Nexus 5’s weakest point. Really, it should be a given that users want their phone to last well past dinner, but the Nexus 5 and its 2300 mAh battery just weren’t up to the task. For that reason alone, this is one of the major asks among Nexus fans, that the next one do what the current generation can’t. Regardless of battery size, some improvement is guaranteed in the form of Android L. Thanks to advances made in Project Volta, L will bring improvements to current hardware as well as future devices.


A better camera

We’d also like Google to pay more attention to the camera this time around. Gone are the days when the camera on your phone was just a nice extra on top of the ability to make calls. A lot of people are using their cellphone camera as their main camera (they say the best camera is the one you have with you and it’s true) but the camera on the Nexus 5 was slow to launch and took too long to focus and capture images. Things improved considerably with an update in December, but the camera still lags behind the likes of the iPhone 5S or this year’s Galaxy S5. Google hasn’t really gone to much effort with the camera UI, which is an area where a lot of OEMs try to differentiate themselves. Though we’re usually pretty against heavy OEM customizations, the fact is that the stock Android camera app leaves a lot to be desired and could use a little love.

More storage as standard

Storage expansion via MicroSD is something that disappeared with the Galaxy Nexus. Google has said in the past that it feels one unified block of storage is preferable and offers a better experience for users. However, it does mean that you need to offer enough onboard storage to begin with, and 16 GB just doesn’t cut it for a lot of people. The Nexus X needs to come with 32 GB of storage as standard and a 64 GB option, or Google needs to bring back the MicroSD solution. Google will probably argue that with auto-upload to Google+ and services like Dropbox and Facebook, users shouldn’t need so much onboard storage. But, between apps, music, photos, and video, 16 GB just doesn’t get you very far.

A screen that doesn’t approach phablet territory

Like most other phones in the smartphone industry, the Nexus line has slowly been increasing in size. The Nexus 5 is the biggest yet at 4.9 inches. While screen size is very much a personal preference, recent rumours have the Nexus X down for a near 6-inch display. That’s approaching Ascend Mate 2 territory and is totally ridiculous. It’s bigger than the current generation Galaxy Note (and probably the Galaxy Note 4, as well). Sure, the Nexus 5 isn’t massive right now, and could stand to be a little bigger, but it needs to be a 5.5-inch panel or less. The reason we’re happy for it to even go that far is that the current Nexus 5 design is pretty compact (it has the same size display as the HTC One M8 but is about 8.5 mm shorter) and we’re hoping Google will maintain that compact design regardless of manufacturer.

A resolution that isn’t totally ridiculous

Today’s last ‘must have’ feature for the Nexus X is brought to you by the letter ‘R,’ for restraint. While there was been talk of 2K display on the Nexus X, we have little interest in seeing this type of display on the Nexus X, or really any phone. As we discussed on episode 10 of the SyrupCast, you simply don’t need that kind of screen resolution in your pocket. Smartphone manufacturers have long been guilty of trending towards more (more megapixels, more pixels per inch, more cores, more RAM), but a 2560 x 1440 display is going to eat into your battery, eat into performance, and not really offer much in the way of return on investment. We need Google to skip this feature for the Nexus X.

30 Aug 00:00

Why Learning From Mistakes Is Overrated

Stephen J. Meyer, Forbes, [Sept] 02, 2014

I'm not sure exactly how I want to respond to this - and after several minutes thinkibg about it decised that this fact makes it work passing along. Here's the author's main point: "Maybe failure is really interesting to explore only after success has been achieved." Before success, people haven't found out what they're good at - and this is what they should focus on. But after success, they've found their niche, and the types of failures they experience are more about process rather than direction. I asked myself, first, have I have some kind of 'success' that I could pin down and identify, and second, is there some 'thing' that I'm good at? Because I do believe I learn from my mistakes, which would mean these two conditions must have been satisfied. But I think that identifying 'success' and the 'thing' we're good at isn't so straightforward - and therefore, neither is this argument.

[Link] [Comment]
30 Aug 14:37

Scripting News: What I learn from my bike.

28 Aug 14:26

Twitter Favorites: [danudey] If you’re a software developer, 50% of this thread will make you angry and 50% will make you cheer:

Dan Udey @danudey
If you’re a software developer, 50% of this thread will make you angry and 50% will make you cheer:…
29 Aug 21:25

Radio3 coming soon

Pretty soon my linkblogging will be cross-platform. Meaning the links will go to Facebook, Twitter (as before) and a new feature-full RSS feed that will make it possible, if enough people linkblog this way, to build new experimental networks on the open web web we all love so much.

The name of the new product, coming soon, is Radio3.

And it's not such a "snack" it's actually a fairly beefy piece of software.

Still diggin!

PS: The first Radio was Radio UserLand released in 2002. The second was Radio2 a server-based linkblogging tool that ran in the OPML Editor environment. Until today I did all my linkblogging in Radio2. Radio3 is a browser-based JavaScript app with a thin server that runs in Node. The 3rd Radio is by far the best, but of course I'm biased.

29 Aug 20:00

GitHub: Starred Wilfred/ag.el on GitHub

August 29, 2014
29 Aug 19:52

Four more examples of how to preserve cycling routes during roadworks. Road Works vs. The Dutch Cyclist

by David Hembrow
Road-works can seriously disrupt cycling. If cyclists are forced to dismount, to make longer journeys or to ride on roads full of motor vehicles then these inconveniences and dangers could cause people to stop cycling. Cycling is fragile. It doesn't take many bad experiences to make people give up. If people break the habit of cycling they may not return very quickly. That is why it is important
29 Aug 00:00

Don't Email Me

Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed, [Sept] 01, 2014

I guess everyone has read the story about the professor implementing a no-email policy for his class. He wants to speak to students in person only. He argues that he is "teaching students to be more self-reliant by making them read assignments and the syllabus more closely, and freeing up time for conversations in the classroom and during office hours" but really he's just cutting back on the level of interaction between professor and student. That's not necessarily a bad thing - students like people everywhere will take the greatest advantage of a service possible. But it reflects a failure of imagination.

[Link] [Comment]
29 Aug 14:39

Learn to solder with Carrie Anne

by Liz Upton

Carrie Anne Philbin, our Education Pioneer and author of the most excellent Adventures in Raspberry Pi, had a dark secret up until last week. She was a Raspberry Pi enthusiast who didn’t know how to solder.

Here’s a new video from her award-winning Geek Gurl Diaries YouTube channel, in which she addresses the issue.

Carrie says:

Everyone tells me that soldering is easy. For a long time I’ve seen it as a barrier to be able to do a lot of electronics or maker style crafts. I usually try and buy components that are pre-soldered or ask someone else to solder them for me. Since joining Raspberry Pi, this has been a bit of a joke for the engineers. They think I’m a bit silly. I’m certain I’m not alone in this.

Recently Wednesdays at Pi Towers have become ‘Gert Wednesdays’ when Gert comes into the office to visit us and teach some of us new skills. Gert Van Loo is an engineer, and one of the first volunteers working on Raspberry Pi. He has also created lots of add on boards for Raspberry Pi like the well titled ‘Gertboard’. He has also created the ‘Gertduino’. You can see where Gert Wednesdays come from cant you. Gert promised me he’d teach me how to solder and he didn’t disappoint. In one morning of simple tuition I was taught how to solder. THANKS GERT!

I decided that after I solder ALL THE THINGS in my office drawer that I’ve been dying to use with my Raspberry Pi, I would put my new found knowledge to good use by creating a tutorial video for GGD. It’s a short video but I hope it will help give other people the confidence to start or at least to attend a Maker Faire event where they can learn.

You can read much more from Carrie Anne on the Geek Gurl Diaries blog.

29 Aug 05:40

Members Only: How to Make Dot Density Maps in R

by Nathan Yau

Choropleth maps are useful to show values for areas on a map, but they can be limited. In contrast, dot density maps are sometimes better for showing distributions within regions.

How to make dot density maps

Continue reading →

29 Aug 03:29

Twitter Favorites: [jmv] Woot! It's my Guest post for #ILoveTransit week 2014 in @thebuzzer

Jason M Vanderhill @jmv
Woot! It's my Guest post for #ILoveTransit week 2014 in @thebuzzer…
29 Aug 18:26

The New Point Grey Road – 29: The Coupland Report

by pricetags

From Penny Coupland:


Today I counted 31 kids under 14 on bikes during my trip from Chinatown to Jericho and back (33 if you count the cute baby in a bike seat, 36 if you count the ones in bike trailers, 37 if you count the one on a trail-a-bike).





Training wheeled bikes on the road are becoming much more common now – like the small boy at the rear.



And apropos your latest post re people parking in bike lanes – I encountered only 2 today. One on PGR, one on Union at Gore, which means I only got sworn at twice for taking photos of them. Today was a good day!



Had a car pull out of a parking space on Union/Gore into the bike lane, narrowly missing me, earlier this month. He drove ahead of me further down and pulled in left, to a parking spot that suited him better. The bike store owner who saw the whole thing came out and asked the cop standing outside why he didn’t do something about it. Cop replied (quite correctly) ‘Happens all the time here’.

Saw two drivers turn into Union bike track from Gore as I was returning home!   Is there a city-wide shortage of post bollards currently? I’d happily sponsor a few!

29 Aug 17:44

The Biggest Public Art Project in Vancouver – or Canada?

by pricetags

Is this it?




The mural that’s being painted on the six gigantic industrial Ocean Concrete silos on Vancouver’s Granville Island by OSGEMEOS, the two twin-brother Brazilian artists, is their biggest project to date and their first in Canada. 

This Vancouver Biennale project “is destined to become one of the most recognizable and iconic works of public art anywhere in the world.”

You can check on the progress here – and contribute to the crowd-sourced campaign.

29 Aug 17:28

Perth vs Vancouver: “A tale of two cities”

by pricetags



Here is the complete series by Kent Acott, a writer with the West Australian, who compared the transportation systems and strategies of the two cities.  I excerpted several of the pieces here and here - but there are still a few other articles in the series, including this one:


Less roads reduces congestion

Former Vancouver city councillor Gordon Price made worldwide headlines when he suggested congestion could be a city’s friend. He is convinced that congestion can be managed to achieve benefits for a community.

“On one hand, congestion encourages more people to consider other forms of transport – like walking or bike riding or public transport,” Mr Price said. “But it can also help authorities to manage the transport system.

“Well co-ordinated traffic lights can act as meters, allowing a certain number of vehicles through at any one time. If done effectively, it means the traffic continues to flow.

“And as the traffic is moving, albeit slowly, it makes it less attractive for motorists to dart off into side streets looking for a quicker route – the concept known as rat runs.” Mr Price, who now works at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, said building more roads to solve congestion was a legacy of engineers who had been dictating urban design and transport networks in many cities for many decades. …

Mr Price said that, as populations grew, more people needed to travel in ways other than cars to allow enough room for the current number of cars, trucks and buses to move around efficiently.

“If the next million or so people all choose to drive, then we really do get gridlock since there isn’t enough room to handle an increase on that scale,” he said.


While we’re at it, here’s a repost of the video made by Matt Taylor which effectively illustrates the absurdity of trying to accommodate the next million people in this region if they all drove cars. (For a quick view of the consequences, go to 3:21 to see what we’d need to do just to park them.)’


29 Aug 16:51

Click Bait: Bike Helmets and Injuries

by pricetags

Always a favourite bit of bait.  Ken Ohrn thanks Kay Teschke for the link: “A solid read for those who like rigor and research. It debunks a recent alarmist report that claims bike-share systems are awfully dangerous.”

From The Conversation:

Hard Evidence: do bikeshare schemes lead to more head injuries among cyclists?


… the users of these bike hire schemes are less likely to wear helmets, high-visibility clothing or specialist cycling Lycra than people riding their own bikes. We’ve argued this is a good thing, as it helps normalise the image of cycling away from a specialist past-time, reducing the perception that riding a bicycle is a risky activity or only for super-sporty people.

But a recent study by Janessa Graves and colleagues published in the American Journal of Public Health concluded that there was a link between the introduction of bikesharing schemes in North American cities and the risk of bicycle-related head injuries. So it was argued that helmets should be incorporated into the schemes as standard from the outset.

We suggest that these concerns are misplaced, and agree with the many other commentators who have argued that the study’s data don’t justify the authors’ conclusions. In fact, the paper’s data could be reasonably interpreted to argue the opposite – that the take-up of bikesharing schemes leads to lower risk of injury. …

What this study does tell us fits with the possibility that injury risks may actually be lower when using hire bikes, and that the introduction of these schemes may go hand-in-hand with a general lowering of risk. So for now, calls for bikesharing schemes (or all cyclists) to require helmets are not supported by the evidence available.


Full article here.


29 Aug 19:11

What’s up with SUMO – August 29th

by Michał

Hey, everyone! Michał here. I’m not as good with cameras and videos as Michael Verdi (yet!), so for now you’ll have to read me. I’m pretty sure you don’t mind. Just read it in Morgan Freeman’s voice and imagine penguins running around, that should make it more fun ;-).

New SUMO members

We’re growing! Not quite at a million yet, but getting closer every day. Take a while to visit the introductions thread and say hello to:

The goings-on

Firefox OS launch in India

  • As you all know, Firefox OS officially launched this Monday in India. Our Indian friends have shown immense support from the very start, first by translating KB articles into the three Indian languages we display in SUMO, and then by helping out directly in the support forums. Huge thanks to you all! We could not have gotten this far without you.
  • If you’re wondering how to become a contributor with Mozilla India, take a look at the group’s Facebook page or visit the forums and say hi!
  • We’re still pushing to get to 100% with all help content for Hindi, Bengali (for India), and Tamil – if you’re interested in helping out, click the language link in this sentence and send the Locale Leaders a private message to get started.

The Buddy Program is back!

Firefox OS launch in Bangladesh

  • With India already using FF OS phones, it’s time for Bangladesh! We hope to get more users of Bengali in Bangladesh to join our localization drive for the Firefox OS help articles. Interested? Just click the link in this paragraph and contact the Locale Leaders through a Private Message for more information. You can also connect with Mozilla Bangladesh through their Facebook group.

SUMO at MozFest 2014!

  • centurion has put together a session proposal combining his interest for Webmaker and localization. We’ll keep you updated about SUMO’s presence during MozFest 2014. Big thanks to centurion for coming up with a great idea!

Last but not least, John99 found a couple of new friends for all of us ;-) Thanks, John99!

Would you like to read about something in particular here? Let us know in the forums.

29 Aug 19:00

Jack White Show Notes

My fifteen-year-old and I attended the August 28, 2014 show at Deer Lake Park in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver. It’s a terrific venue; a big lawn with a nicely-steep slope so you can see over the mosh pit. If you’re not a Jack White fan you can stop reading, but if you are, this is a tour you should catch. My notes on the event, in no particular order, with better pictures than I can take:

  • It’s not a terribly long set — just under two hours — but wow, is there ever a lot of music jammed in. Here’s the set-list; I didn’t take notes so there were noteworthy moments where I can’t remember the song they were in. But anyhow, there are a lot of good songs in that list.

  • You can’t take pictures. The conditions of entry exclude “Professional cameras, defined as those with removable lenses.” And you can’t really use your phone either, because there’s an announcement which I’ll try to reproduce: “The whole show happens right here on the 40 feet of this stage, it looks way better to your eyes than through your mobile. We know you want pictures so Jack’s hired a photographer and we’ll post them on the web site, so use them and claim you took them if you like. And anyone standing in front of you holding up their phone is an asshole.” Fair enough.

Jack white at Deer Lake Park

All photos: David James Swanson.

  • There’s no pre-cooked set list. At the end of each song, Jack decides what’s next and you can see him telling one or two of the band, the ones who need to come in at the beginning; the rest are expected to figure it out and get with the program. It gets complicated; at the end of Alone in My Home, he decided to tack on an extra chorus of Temporary Ground, which required scurrying all over the stage and cueing up more or less the whole band. But it was effective.

  • Temporary Ground is a beautiful, beautiful song.

  • Noteworthy moment: Theremin solo! And really well-integrated into the song, too.

  • High Ball Stepper, which is pretty weird on the album, seems to be getting weirder and weirder as the tour progresses. It went to some very strange places, which is a brave thing to do with your set opener.

  • I’ve always thought of Steady As She Goes as a nice tuneful pop ditty. Jack seems to think it’s a guitar anthem; he didn’t quite convince me but his argument is forceful.

Jack White at Deer Lake Park
  • The White audience is a pretty white audience. When you live in immigrant-heavy aggressively-multiethnic Vancouver, the effect is pretty in-yo-face. More or less all the Asians I saw were wives or girlfriends. No, I have no idea why.

  • The first really big rock concert I ever attended was CSNY in the year… well, let’s just say dinosaurs walked the earth not just the stage. There were people at last night’s show with outfits and hair that could have been at that one. Young people I mean; there are stable Rock-&-Roll Looks that don’t die: Straw-hat hippie, black-leather chick, Wayne’s-world dimbulb, country shitkicker, and so on. New looks have accreted over the decades: Mohawked punk and emo goth come to mind. Being in a rock-&-roll crowd makes me happy. I wore a leather skullcap and black jeans myself.

  • I was totally not the only one who went with a kid or kids; lots of multigenerational parties were head-banging together.

  • The sound was pretty bad, which is inexcusable in a nice outdoor venue. While lots of the individual instruments/voices sounded good, and some combos were spine-chilling — Guitar/theremin, bowed-bass/violin — the whole-band sound was too often an ugly crash-cymbal-heavy screech.

    Also, Jack’s acoustic guitar sounded horrible, get a new mike or a new guitar or a new pickup or something. Also, the vocal mike at the upright piano sounded better than the one at the front of the stage. BTW, Jack should do more piano tunes, they bring out something different and good in him.

  • Jack White at Deer Lake Park
  • In the White-Stripes years, Jack got used to having a drummer at the front, stage left, playing a lot of simple CRASH! THUMP! CRASH! THUMP! lines. Meg’s gone now, but he hasn’t lost the habit.

  • Obviously Jack is a significant guitarist, but last night he was way more effective with short stuff, filling in five bars getting to the bridge, than in the big long showpieces (for example on Ball and Biscuit), which wandered off into the weeds a bit.

  • Anyone who goes to soccer matches knows that it’s a lot of fun to join a few thousand people singing the Seven Nation Army riff. Turns out, it’s way more fun to do that with a professional backbeat behind you and Jack singing I'm going to Wichita/Far from this opera forevermore…, clapping over his head, letting the audience be the guitar.

29 Aug 20:52

Journalism vs Mass-Media

by Matt Mullenweg
29 Aug 08:18

Open Badges Community Project Call, August 27, 2014

Open Badges Community Project Call, August 27, 2014:



BK joined this week’s community call to share what the Free Library of Philadelphia has been doing this summer with their teen participatory design badging program. 

The Free Library team developed 4 different badges around the college readiness process through the lens of creative maker projects in association with the Maker Jawn initiative, a team of artists, engineers, designers, and thinkers who work in libraries in Philadelphia.

Documenting summer learning and career readiness

Working with libraries in low-income neighborhoods as part of the North Philadelphia Library Cluster, the team led afterschool and summer activities in partnership with the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN).

The program served approximately 70 teens at 9 library locations working with 20 or so maker mentors and college prep specialists helping the students with SAT prep and scholarship applications.

The four badges created by the team were:

  • Community / team building
  • Creator / inventing
  • Presence / presenting
  • Life / being

The badge program was aimed at middle school students, although the team found that the high school students PYN hired to help with the program were designing badges for themselves, looking to college and career readiness, rather than skill-building badges for the younger students - perhaps offering an interesting insight into what the teens thought badges were most valuable for.

The teens created a number of physical badges and presented their badge projects to the larger group. Some of the teens also used online badge builders to create digital versions of the badges. The team took their badge projects and funneled them into actionable items that could guide those pursuing badges.

Participatory Design

The teens worked in groups, using prompts to identify individual strengths and weaknesses and community impact. From these, they created badge designs, projects and evidence to present to a larger group. A badging template was used to help guide the teens, and they were able to provide feedback on each others badge project presentations

Passport for Documentation

The team came up with the idea of creating a book for each student, to act as a passport for documenting the activities they participated in over the summer. This involved both the physical creation and customization of a journal, as well as filling it with documentation of interviews, artistic creations, online tests, critiques of others’ work, time management skill development, and other markers of progress from the summer’s activities.

The Free Library team’s goal with developing a prototype set of badges was to give the youth a means of documentation for their activities that they could take with them - not just physically, but digitally - beyond the program and onwards to high school, college, and careers. The portable and transferable method of recognizing skills offered by badges meant they were a natural fit for this program, and it will be interesting to see how it develops as the team rolls out the badges.

You can view the prototype of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s 21st Century Skills Youth Badging Program here:

29 Aug 11:02

Nokia’s HERE Maps for Android to be available exclusively on Samsung devices

by Rajesh Pandey
Thanks to a licensing agreement with Samsung, Nokia’s HERE maps will soon be available exclusively on Samsung’s Tizen based devices, the recently unveiled Gear S and even the company’s Android running Galaxy branded devices.  Continue reading →
30 Aug 12:27

The "New" Nintendo 3DS

The "New" Nintendo 3DS:

Kyle Russell:

While it’s nice to see a Nintendo release a faster version of its popular console with better controls, I can’t help be confused by how Nintendo chose to announce it. The New Nintendo 3DS is backwards compatible with older 3DS games, but it will also have its own exclusive titles. Is it supposed to be its own, new device, or not? If it is, I worry that Nintendo is shooting itself in the foot by not coming out with a bigger bang and a new name. This new device is an even smaller incremental jump than from the Wii to the Wii U, and anecdotally, most people I’ve asked over the last few years didn’t realize that those are two different systems.

Everything is just fine at Nintendo. Pay no attention to the weird repackaged half-product releases.

29 Aug 15:19

End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email

End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email:

Just in time for the Labor Day holiday in the United States, Clive Thompson dives into the thing that will ruin the holiday for so many:

Why would less email mean better productivity? Because, as Ms. Deal found in her research, endless email is an enabler. It often masks terrible management practices.

When employees shoot out a fusillade of miniature questions via email, or “cc” every team member about each niggling little decision, it’s because they don’t feel confident to make a decision on their own. Often, Ms. Deal found, they’re worried about getting in trouble or downsized if they mess up.

This seems exactly right. I’d venture to guess that most email that is sent in the work environment doesn’t need to be sent. But it is as a way to cover one’s own ass.

As Thompson continues:

In contrast, when employees are actually empowered, they make more judgment calls on their own. They also start using phone calls and face-to-face chats to resolve issues quickly, so they don’t metastasize into email threads the length of “War and Peace.”

This is basic behavioral economics. When email is seen as an infinite resource, people abuse it. If a corporation constrains its use, each message becomes more valuable — and employees become more mindful of how and when they write.

So maybe the idea isn’t to limit the characters one can write in an email, maybe it’s to give people a quota of total emails sent each month. If they hit it, better find another way to message your colleagues. Or better yet, work harder not to hit the limit!

29 Aug 12:50

The Quirks of Smallness

The Quirks of Smallness:

Joe Pinsker on a unique strategy employed by Herb Hyman, the owner of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf:

He determined his shops’ proximity to Starbucks to be such a boon that he began opening locations close to established Starbucks—a sly reversal of the national chain’s strategy. “We bought a Chinese restaurant right next to one of their stores and converted it, and by God, it was doing $1 million a year right away,” Hyman is quoted as saying in Starbucked.

Rather than run and hide from the big guy, or be terrified of his arrival into town, Coffee Bean started doing the opposite. And they thrived — undoubtedly because it helps to be next to Goliath when you’re trying to get people to pull for David.

(Also interesting data on small boards versus big boards — which makes total sense.)