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16 Oct 23:11

Twitter Favorites: [neil21] If you want the poor to have something, don't make it cheap or free for everybody, including the rich. Just give the poor money.

neil21 @neil21
If you want the poor to have something, don't make it cheap or free for everybody, including the rich. Just give the poor money.
17 Oct 15:06

Twitter Favorites: [clmarohn] The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs by Charles Marohn, a special feature in The American Conservative.

Charles Marohn @clmarohn
The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs by Charles Marohn, a special feature in The American Conservative.
19 Oct 23:51

Run Better

by Matt Mullenweg

Joe Boydston, the self-described “crazy running guy” who runs as far as 90+ miles from the airport to WordCamps or meetups when he lands, has written a bit about how to run better. At our company meetup he ran running workshops and coached a lot of people including myself, and applying his suggestions I’ve been able to do a lot better.

19 Oct 23:57

Twitter announces Audio Cards for listening to music within Android and iOS apps

by Jane McEntegart

Twitter for mobile just got louder. The mico-blogging site this week announced a new Audio Card feature for iOS and Android users that allows for the streaming of music or audio tracks directly from the Twitter apps.

This new tool will allow you to listen to audio from your favourite artists on Twitter without leaving the Twitter application. An embedded player will play the linked piece of audio while you continue to browse your Twitter feed. You just tap on the link to bring up the Audio Card, and then minimize or swipe it away by pushing the Card to the bottom of your screen.

Twitter says it plans to partner with multiple third-party streaming services, but for now Audio Cards only works with one: SoundCloud. This SoundCloud collaboration includes more than 50 SoundCloud “partners” (Twitter users) that are able to add Audio Cards to their tweets. Expect to see podcasts, music, and other types of audio content from The White House, NPR, NASA, and Glen Beck, as well as Neil deGrasse Tyson, Deadmau5, Olly Murs, Coldplay, and David Guetta.

20 Oct 00:44

Who’s buying property in the Lower Mainland? Amazingly, people under 30

by Frances Bula

I know this story is going to bring out the hate mail. As well, the timing is weird, coming as it does in the middle of a frenzy of “All our young people are leaving town! There’s nothing for sale under two million!”

But I’ve been intrigued by this for a while, ever since the various young people in my life started to hit their mid-20s and ’30s. And I started to hear about their friends buying. I, like others, had thought every youngster was being driven out of town to Saskatoon. But the stories kept coming in.  Two sisters, friends of my stepdaughter, bought a condo together five years ago, then sold, split the proceeds, and each bought one of their own. The friends of someone else’s son, guys who work in port jobs, have done the same with a condo in North Van. A friend of my niece’s, a young Vietnamese guy from Edmonton who does social marketing for sports events, bought a place in Burnaby a couple of years ago. And, weirdly, they weren’t doing it with big whacks of their parents’ money.

So I’ve wanted to do this story for several years. Even interviewed Matt Kennedy, the young guy in this story, back in 2011 when he first bought. But didn’t get around to doing the story until I saw a hook recently, the Urban Futures analysis of data showing that home ownership among the young and the oldest increased between 2006 and 2011.

My story, of course, has prompted all kinds of comments on the Globe’s site about how it must be just real-estate promotion. (And, I have to say, only in Vancouver would we be profoundly suspicious of a 20-something who saves his money, lives at home, works hard, doesn’t go out, in order to be able to buy a piece of property. In another city, another era, he’d be called a smart and thrifty person.)

There’s no doubt that the young people buying in Vancouver, more so than other places except possibly contemporary Toronto, are settling for smaller spaces, perhaps more precarious footholds. (Strata councils, ack!)

But people who’ve wanted to live in desirable places have done that for a while. I decided a long time ago that I wasn’t going to move to the suburbs, even though I grew up in North Van and loved it. I have stayed in Vancouver but have had to give up on some other things. I bought a house together with my mother originally. I’ve never been able to buy in exactly the neighbourhoods I wanted. I’ve always had less space, shared space, compromises. I think a lot of people in the city have done that. And, if they didn’t want to make those compromises, they moved to Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey, Langley, for the last 50 years.

It’s harder now, I’m not questioning that. Besides the pressures on housing from people outside the market (Americans buying vacation condos, whatever is happening with Chinese capital), one of our issues is we have a generation that wants to live in the city. Previous generations, except for a certain set of oddballs, accepted that they would move to the suburbs when they had kids. This generation is much less happy with that answer. So they’re creating pressure on the market too.

In spite of that, they’re buying in  major metro areas in greater numbers than ever. It might not fit your preconceptions, but unless you’ve decided you don’t believe in statistics, this has to make you think.

The story is also cut and pasted on the next page, for those who can’t get past the wall

Frances Bula

VANCOUVER — Special to The Globe and Mail


Last updated

Matthew Kennedy is a young man many people would consider to be the equivalent of a unicorn in Vancouver. This is, after all, the city renowned in popular mythology as a place with such astronomical house prices that its young will be forced to live in basement suites forever.

Mr. Kennedy bought his first condo four years ago when he was 20, using the money he had saved from the job he started right after he finished high school. The first one, at H&R Block, doing deliveries. The second, doing what his father had done and he’d loved since a kid, painting cars.

He put 10 per cent down on the $265,000 two-bedroom suite in Langley, B.C. He only needed his parents’ help because the bank was antsy about him being so young. They lent him another 10 per cent, which he repaid. (His parents, with four other children and no Vancouver west-side house to cash out of, don’t have money to burn.)

Mr. Kennedy, who has since married, is now looking for a slightly larger place to buy, a townhouse, with plans to rent out the original condo.

Matthew Kennedy in his Langley, B.C. home. Photo by Darryl Dyck for The Globe and Mail

“It was a lot of work,” says Mr. Kennedy, who paid rent to his parents while he was saving for his first down payment. “There’s definitely sacrifices. I budgeted. I didn’t eat out. Some could say I missed some life experiences. But if you have that [home ownership] as your goal, anything is possible.”

Mr. Kennedy, as it turns out, is not as rare as many might think.

A recent analysis of home-ownership rates in Canada done by Vancouver-based Urban Futures shows that the proportion of young homeowners increased from 2006 to 2011, a period when prices appeared to be climbing out of reach in many urban centres, including Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa.

“The headlines that portray the current younger generation as being more challenged than previous younger generations to enter the owned side of the housing market are balanced by the data that show continued increase in home ownership rates among young age groups,” the report said.

Home-ownership rates among younger people in B.C.’s Lower Mainland went up more than the national average. Vancouver homeowners in the 20- to 24-year-old age bracket increased four percentage points, to 25 per cent, in those five years – putting young Vancouverites near the top of the list among Canadian cities in proportion of homeowners under 25. The rate went up to 37 per cent from 35 among those 25-29. It stayed around 50 per cent for the 30- to 34-year-olds.

As a result, about a third of people under 30 in the Lower Mainland own homes. That’s about 10 percentage points lower than in Calgary, but the same as the proportion in Toronto, says Andrew Ramlo, a director at Urban Futures.

UBC’s Sauder School of Business professor Tsur Somerville says part of the reason for Vancouver’s high rate of young homeowners is that the proliferation of condos and townhouses here gives them a lower-priced product to choose from compared with other cities that are dominated by houses. And they likely feel more pressured to buy early, because, like everyone else in the city, they worry they’ll be priced out if they don’t buy now.

Mr. Ramlo acknowledged that some of the home-ownership patterns in Vancouver are puzzling, given the disparity between incomes of young people and house prices.

An analysis of local incomes released last week by researcher and urban planner Andrew Yan, who works with Bing Thom Architects, showed that 25- to 55-year-olds with BAs in Vancouver make about $41,000 a year, $10,000 a year less than the median for Canada and $20,000 less than in top-paying Ottawa. The spread was even worse for people with master’s degrees– as though employers realize people are so desperate to be in Vancouver that they can pay them less.

“The relationship between incomes and prices of homes has totally broken down here,” Mr. Ramlo said. He, like others, said part of the explanation has to be that parents, who benefited from the last several decades of real-estate appreciation, are transferring their wealth to their children.

But that’s not all. It’s clear from talking to young people who are buying homes in the expensive Lower Mainland that they’re also strategizing how to crack the market on their own.

Siblings or friends will buy an apartment together until they’ve built up enough equity to sell and take their proceeds to buy their own dwellings. They’ll buy a condo in a suburb that’s affordable and rent it out to build up equity, while they continue to live in the central city. They’ll definitely make do with less space.

Because it’s equally clear that they’ve decided they’re going to buy in, no matter what. Despite what many say about the young being driven out of the Lower Mainland, they’ve decided they’re not leaving.

“People I know here couldn’t imagine going somewhere else,” said Kent Maier, 31, who just closed this month on a near-$400,000 condo a few blocks from St. Paul’s hospital downtown. Mr. Maier, a federal government employee and his partner, Fabian Gutierrez, an immigration consultant in training, came from Edmonton a year ago and say they are never returning to that city, no matter what the house prices are there. “Most people I know are buying or planning to buy. Prices are high but they’re not going to change and you might as well get in.”

For Jordan O’Donnell and husband Chris Richards – she works as a specialized tutor, he is a social-media consultant at the Vancouver airport – buying became an emotional decision about moving to a new life phase.

“This was the first step of being an adult,” said Mr. Richards, 30, who said he and his 29-year-old wife chose Richmond because that’s where they grew up and where their parents still live.

They saved enough for most of the 20-per-cent down payment needed for their $300,000 townhouse – “a real fixer-upper, 43 years old, near Garden City and Williams” – and got over the hump with the help of Ms. O’Donnell’s father. (That saved them extra costs that get tacked onto a mortgage with a less-than-20-per-cent down payment.)

Some young homeowners have become slightly evangelical about the need for others to realize it’s possible if they stop being so clueless about money.

Eesmyal Santos-Brault, a green-building consultant, bought his first condo 10 years ago when he was 28 and working at a non-profit for near minimum wage.

He didn’t think he’d even qualify for a mortgage, but his mother, a real estate agent, told him just to try. She also offered to lend him the $7,000 he needed for the minimum down payment on a Commercial Drive condo.

“She kept pushing me even though I was saying: ‘I can’t qualify, I’m poor, I’m just a kid.’” To his surprise, he found the bank would indeed lend him money.

“I keep telling all my artsy, environmental friends that they should do this,” says Mr. Santos-Brault, who has since bought a townhouse in Strathcona while renting out the condo.

And he worries that people – those in certain fields who believe they’re above talking about money or who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds – are handicapped by the attitudes they’ve inherited from their families or social circle.

“They don’t know anyone who owns, they don’t understand money, they just don’t think it’s possible. I keep telling them: “It’s a conspiracy to keep you as renters. Then you can pay someone else’s mortgage.’”

Follow Frances Bula on Twitter: @fabulavancouver





19 Oct 19:00

Gamergate and Bullying

I’ve been watching the “Gamergate” brouhaha with sick fascination. We all know the Internet’s got ugly corners and suddenly the ugliness came out of the corner. I honor the courage of the women who’ve been standing up to the creeps. But I was kinda puzzled by who the creeps actually are and why they’re so upset; I know lots of heavy gamers and they’re by and large pleasant well-adjusted people. So I went looking for them.

[Disclosure: I’m not 100% unbiased: I once spent a couple years in online games. Also, I like Android car-racing games. Also, I’m an L11 Ingress agent; L12 soon!]

Where is it?

Hate on Twitter

I looked at #gamergate on Twitter but it’s just a continuous ping-pong howl of rage. It certainly reinforced my lousy opinion of the GG folk; I screenshot one to dodge track-covering. But it didn’t help me understand anything.

I also tried 8chan but I just couldn’t find any signal among the noise. 8chan, I’m pretty sure it’s not me, it’s you.

Then I spent a while reading /r/KotakuInAction, which you might not want to visit if you’re not feeling thick-skinned and well-centered. But I will say there is a considerable amount of cohesive narrative happening there in among all the ragebombs. [Disclosure: I’m not hip enough to discern the intended relationship to the Kotaku blog, a Gawker thing, reasonably sane on the face of it.]


My first impressions of the KotakuInAction page were dominated by the word “bullying”, it’s all over the place. “Good,” I thought; “they’re talking about all that bullying we’ve been hearing about.”

Um, nope. They’re being bullied, they say. They seem to think that’s the big problem: gamers being bullied by non-gamers. There are other issues (the ones we’ve been hearing about) but all the emotional momentum comes straight out of this bullying thing, the feeling that they’re getting no respect and they’re mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it any more.

So, I’ll grant that people who play a lot of videogames have a lousy image, and I’ll go further: I think the image is largely unwarranted.

But shee-it, someone not liking your fave recreation isn’t bullying. People disapproving of gender treatments on your home turf isn’t bullying. Being unconvinced that games journalism is hopelessly corrupt isn’t bullying. Get a fucking grip.


Here are the ones that stuck out in my memory.

“The media are all corrupt”

I guess it’s easier to believe gaming coverage is crooked if you believe the whole ecosystem is. Also, it apparently removes the need to bring forward actual concrete evidence. Which I didn’t see any of.

You know what? There’s so much money in the gaming biz, and it’s so hard to make any in publishing, that I would have been unsurprised had it been a cesspit of bribery and intimidation, ripe for exposure. On the evidence, it isn’t, which is sort of heart-warming.

They hate Ms Wu and Ms Quinn and Ms Sarkesesian

The contempt is visceral and apparently infinite in depth. They are scraping the bottom of the barrel on this one, looking for something — anything — to take down their critics. Jeepers, these women were niche sub-sub-subculture bloggers until GG’s blunt-edged frontal assault made them profiles in courage. I hear and understand the mainstream feminist critique — men thinking they should be above criticism from the Second Sex — and I suppose it captures truth, but I’m still baffled by the empty fury.

“We’re winning“

Apparently, they think so. If they just stay the course (and here a few relatively-sane voices chime in saying “ease off on the harshing, bros”) the massed ranks of the corrupt media and the loathed SJW’s will undoubtedly crumble. Doesn’t look like that from outside, boyos.

That SJW thing

(Stands for “Social Justice Warrior” and wow do they hate ’em.) Guys, I got news for you. You know who was an SJW? Abraham fucking Lincoln. Mahatma fucking Gandhi. And so on. Me, I’m just a computer programmer but SJW is something to aspire to. The complete chuckleheadedenss of this targeting beggars belief.

The Politics

Well, they’re weird. There’s clearly a left-right thing trying to happen here: I got pushback to one of my WTF tweets pointing me at GamerGate: Part I: Sex, Lies, and Gender Games in Reason, pro-GG discourse in a pretty vanilla hard-right pub.

But I gotta tell you, the actual GG rank-and-file don’t know Krugman from Erickson or Piketty from Le Pen. They’re pretty sure that the people “bullying” them are in the grip of an “ideology”, and that must be super-bad. But near as I can tell they don’t have one.

Good news?

It’s not entirely absent. Erwin van der Koegh wrote So I read 1500 Twitter mentions that Anita Sarkeesian and Brianna Wu got (20 hours’ worth) and yeah, there’s loads of ignorant meanness, but apparently the actual rape/murder threats have died down to zero. Maybe Twitter getting its shit together?

Part of me suspects there’s an upside to GamerGate: It dragged a part of the Internet that we always knew was there out into the open where it’s really hard to ignore. It’s damaged some people’s lives, but you know what? That was happening all the time, anyhow. The difference is, now we can’t not see it.

20 Oct 05:49

Fixing Lightroom Problems Caused by the POODLE Security Vulnerability

by Jeffrey Friedl
No Poodles Here (beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder) At a gallery in Carmel California, in 2000 -- Carmel, California, United States -- Copyright 2000 Jeffrey Friedl,
Canon PowerShot S20 @ 6mm — 1/20 sec, f/2.9, ISO 62 — map & image datanearby photos
No Poodles Here
(wow, beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder)
At a gallery in Carmel California, in 2000

A security weakness dubbed “POODLE” has recently been discovered in how internet-connected applications make secure connections, and this is having an increasingly-detrimental impact on Lightroom. Thankfully, it's easy enough to fix for most folks, and this post tells you how.

POODLE manifests itself in that certain kinds of secure connections are no longer quite as secure as they're supposed to be, so until you fix this for your Internet-connected applications, your data may be at risk. But the secondary problem is that, until fixed on your system, your Internet-connected applications like Lightroom may experience seemingly random network errors as more and more remote sites, in an effort to protect their users' data, completely disable support for the insecure protocol.

(A tertiary problem is that folks running into these networking problems while using my Lightroom plugins blame the plugin and inundate me with bug reports.)

How to fix for Mac OS X:

Install Apple's latest security update (which you should be doing anyway). That's it. You're done.

How to fix for Windows:

If you use any of my Lightroom plugins, the easiest way to fix it is to upgrade to the latest version of the plugin. As of versions that I released yesterday, all my plugins do a one-time check to see whether you're vulnerable, and if so, pop up a dialog that offers to fix it for you:

Just click on the [fix now] button and the plugin will fix the problem (disable SSL support in Internet Options, and enable TLS support.).

If you don't use any of my plugins, or if you didn't fix it the one time the dialog (perhaps unexpectedly) popped up, you can use my free my System Information plugin to check/fix your system any time:

The [how to fix] button brings you to the same dialog shown earlier, offering to fix it immediately for you.

In either case, the plugin fixes applications like Internet Explorer and Lightroom that use the base Windows connection library. Some third-party browsers do their own networking, so must be fixed separately. If you have custom browsers on Windows, see this page. (That page also explains how to do the base fix the plugins do, in case you don't want to have the plugins do it for you.)

20 Oct 01:16

Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Hands On

by John

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to check out Samsung’s latest flagship device, the Galaxy Note 4. I’ve been a fan of this ‘phablet’ line of devices and the fourth edition didn’t disappoint.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The Note 4 is a beautiful device and feels great in your hand. The first thing I noticed (and was somewhat concerned about) was the 5.7-inch Quad HD (2560 x 1440) Super AMOLED screen which is stunning. I’ve always loved the experience of using the Note devices for taking photos…to the extent that I kind of understand why there are so many iPad photographers out there – it’s a great way to see what you’re shooting on a large screen. But I’ve also always been concerned that the screen is TOO good…and anything you shoot won’t look as good on any other device…especially after uploading that photo to Facebook or Instagram.

The Note 4 experience of shooting and reviewing your photos actually IS better than on my iPhone 6. For one thing, the screen is brighter and more vibrant (more on this in a bit) on the Note 4. The photo review also uses the entire screen due to the aspect ratio of the display to the camera’s resolution (assuming you shoot with the 16:9 16M photo option). You don’t have any resolution choices on the iPhone.

Photo review on the Note 4

On the iPhone 6, you get a less vibrant, although truer representation of the image with black bars since the resolution doesn’t match the screen’s aspect ratio. This has actually been bothering me (about the iPhone) the more I get used to shooting with the Note 4.

The Note 4 also brings a few new ways to shoot photos. An interesting one is the ability to use the built in heart rate monitor as a shutter release while taking a selfie with the front facing camera. Simply put your finger on the sensor, frame your shot and release your finger from the sensor and the shot gets taken. Another interesting mode is the ability to take a ‘wide selfie’ by basically using the front facing camera to take a mini-panorama. You start the photo in one position, then pan to include a wider field of view. This also gives you a higher resolution image with the front facing camera which shoots at 3.7M at f1.9.

If the front facing camera isn’t good enough for your selfies, you can use the rear camera and it can detect when your face is centred (this is adjustable) in the shot and it will auto take the image. Lots of great new modes to take advantage of the improved cameras.

For a non-scientific comparison, I shot (roughly) the same photos with both devices (with the rear cameras) in a few locations to see which was better. I’ll let you decide which is better. Click to view full size (uncropped images in their native resolution can also be downloaded):
Note 4 iPhone 6 iPhone 6 Note 4

My only real complaint that I alluded to is that the Note 4’s screen is almost too good and still over saturates images artificially. This is fine if you only use this phone to look at everything because it is gorgeous. But as soon as you upload your images to Facebook, Flickr, etc. and look at them on another device/screen, they fall a little flat to me.

Ironically, I recently bought an Apple iPhone 6 and balked at the iPhone 6+ as being too big for carrying in my pocket. But during the course of this review (more than two weeks now), I’ve carried the 6 and the Note 4 around in the SAME pocket for the most part and it actually hasn’t been an issue. The Note 4 is a little shorter (but thicker) than the 6+ but I think I’d be fine with either device in my pocket. So much so that I even checked the return date on my 6 to see if I could switch up.

The Note 4 can also shoot 4k HD video…make sure you have a memory card installed to capture at this quality as it chews megabytes up by the second of footage.

With all the new features that Samsung has added (a lot more than I’ve covered in this post), it’s hard to argue that this isn’t their best smartphone yet…and would definitely be my number one pick in an Android smartphone.

The Note 4 will be available on October 24th from carriers across Canada.

The post Samsung Galaxy Note 4: Hands On appeared first on

20 Oct 05:22

Presenting a collection of Pacific Stage Lines ephemera,...

by illustratedvancouver

1937 Hayes Teardrop, in a 1937 Hercules Engine advert (colourized by jmv)

1937 advertisement for Hercules Engine Motors, Canton, OH

Late 1920s early 1930s Pacific Stage LInes logo

1937 Pacific Stage Lines logo

1950 Pacific Stage logo

1957 Pacific Stage logo

1937 Pacific Stage Lines logo, as it appeared in the bus illustration above (customized by jmv from the following traced logo)

BC Motor Transportation Logo, traced from the side of the 1937 Hayes Teardrop

A photo of the side of the 1937 Hayes teardrop by jmv

Pacific Stage Lines route map, showing distances (in miles) from Vancouver, BC

Presenting a collection of Pacific Stage Lines ephemera, including a 1937 advertisement illustration for Hercules Engine Motors that I’ve colourized.

Jack Brown over at has compiled a comprehensive chapter on Pacific Stage Lines history, with much of the information provided by Murray Boyle, whom I suspect is the son of a Pacific Stage Lines bus driver, Dave Boyle. From the article:

Dave Boyle went into service as a Green Stage driver on a run to White Rock on May 23, 1923. He began his career with the Green Stages Ltd., and continued with Pacific Stage Lines. Here he is shown in his Pacific Stage uniform.

The entire history is a fascinating study of small entrepreneurial initiatives that were ultimately combined to create a more unified bus service spanning both sides of the Fraser River. I believe this aspect of our transportation history deserves more attention, and so as such, I present to you a compilation of various Pacific Stage Lines logos. More from Jack’s website:

An image that the traveling public was very familiar with was the Pacific Stage Lines logo of a flying horse in a circle. The line drawing of a PSL bus was also very frequent in many company advertisements.

The public name for bus services from 1926 to March 1962 was the Pacific Stages Lines. The service was chiefly an inter city carrier, but operated some local and suburban services in the Greater Vancouver area. Suburban service in Surrey began November 8, 1966.

Also presented here is a neat animated GIF which I created from a brochure of unknown vintage for Pacific Stage Lines’ parcel express service, showing the distances (in miles) that Pacific Stage buses traveled. If we had some vintage timetables, it would be neat to see what the ultimate travel times would be between these destinations! Special thanks to Mike Hocevar for his help with this post!

20 Oct 05:38

Samsung and Facebook – One chance

by windsorr

RFM AvatarSmall






Samsung has one chance to avoid the fate of its predecessors.

  • Samsung looks to be teetering on the edge of suffering the same fate as all market leaders before it as its products have become commodities.
  • In order to prevent disaster, it must add something back to its products to make them again desirable to users.
  • The iPhone now has large screens and the Chinese are voraciously attacking at the low end, leaving Samsung very little to fight with other than price.
  • This is why its relationship with developers and providers of Internet services is now so important.
  • RFM’s analysis has indicated that its best chance is to work with content developers to create Samsung specific versions of their apps. (See Samsung and Google – Gorilla war, 27th May 2014).
  • This is why Samsung’s recent meeting with Facebook is so important.
  • Smartphone users spend 24% of their time on their devices using social networking and Facebook accounts for 75% of that time.
  • If Samsung and Facebook work together to make the Facebook experience meaningfully better on Samsung devices than anyone else’s, then users will have a reason to choose a Samsung product other than price.
  • This is the key to retaining margins at attractive levels as preference is what drives pricing and how Apple makes such fantastic margins.
  • Currently, over half of the Android devices in the hands of users are made by Samsung.
  • This combined with the fact that Android remains very fragmented means that every developer wants to develop for Samsung devices before any other.
  • This creates the potential for a mutually beneficial relationship that can extend far beyond Facebook to all of the other major app developers.
  • Games can be extended with Samsung specific versions with extra levels or downloadable content as can media or productivity apps and services.
  • This is where Samsung must focus and it must do it immediately.
  • The more share that is lost, the less attractive the relationship becomes for app developers and the less willing they will be to write Samsung specific versions.
  • With Google firmly in control of the ecosystem, this is Samsung’s only option to support its handset margins and avoid the death spiral that has consumed all market leaders before it.
  • There is a chance for Samsung to avoid repeating history but it must act immediately and wholeheartedly.
  • In the short-term I still see downside in Samsung to KRW1m where there is significant psychological resistance.
  • Google, Microsoft or Apple in the short-term make far better options in the ecosystem.
20 Oct 14:33

Apple's SIM card - less of a gamechanger than many people think

by Dean Bubley
Let's get one thing clear straight away: it's not a Soft-SIM that's in the new cellular version of the iPad Air. Apple isn't becoming an MVNO, either. And it's not about to put Apple in the position of supreme gatekeeper for the world's telcos, much less charge them for the privilege.

Although the precise details remain available only in outline and inference, it appears that the "Apple SIM" is just that - a physical SIM, in familiar card form. It just comes pre-installed at the factory, but (it seems) can be removed and replaced as normal, for example with a SIM from an operator that isn't currently providing its profiles to Apple for its menu system.

This isn't actually a new concept, either. It's a variant of the GSMA's programmable SIM / eUICC standard, intended to promote cellular use in M2M devices, by helping manufacturers and users avoid some of the "friction" involved today. Operators want more new devices on their networks. Manufacturers of non-telephony devices want to avoid the hassle of setting up local distribution channels to provide SIMs. And users don't want to have to hunt for SIM cards, especially for short-term service plans.

The idea is that a device ships with a SIM card that either has
  • A "master" profile from one operator, which can then switch in/out the profiles to a partner or affiliate MNO in another country, or... 
  • (As appears here) a basic "bootstrap" profile from the device vendor that can then be used to trigger operator-specific downloads & activations from a menu. 
NTT DoCoMo has already launched its programmable-SIM services, and in discussions recently at CTIA I found out about several more that are working on their own propositions. The names of the operator groups concerned won't come as much surprise, given those that have been publicly supporting the GSMA initiative. Where this differs from some of the proposals is that the device vendor (Apple) is issuing the cards, and presumably has to bear the costs and administrative work of getting them produced.

Although the main emphasis of the programable/eUICC model is on fully-embedded SIMs, for example in vehicles or ruggedised industrial machinery, the Apple SIM model makes perfect sense for tablets as well, in a situation where some operators have signed up, but others still demand a conventional SIM.

It is not yet clear whether the Apple SIM ships with the AT&T/Sprint/T-Mobile/EE profiles pre-installed, or whether these have to be downloaded once the user chooses from the menu. It's also not exactly clear what happens if the user switches - does the old profile get deleted and another downloaded? Or does the user just swap to another that's already pre-embedded? If the device does hold multiple profiles upfront (rather than one at a time), how many can it accommodate? There's a lot still to be answered. 

However, the idea of multiple profiles (and IMSIs) in SIM cards is not new - operators like Truphone have been doing something broadly similar for years, but with MVNO deals rather than the operators' own brands upfront. The innards of SIM cards, IMSI, security credentials, MNC/MCC codes and related topics is pretty arcane - there are numerous ways to create multi-operator SIMs, and that's before we even get to fully-soft SIMs in the phone's own OS and processor chips. (I first wrote about multi-IMSI cards in 2009).

It's also worth noting that Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX's ship with pre-installed SIMs, although provided by Vodafone in Europe and (I think) AT&T in the US. The Kindles and VF SIMs, shipped from central distribution centres, can then be configured to support whichever country the subscriber lives in, with the appropriate local network credentials for the relevant Vodafone OpCo.

The obvious question is whether a similar approach could be applied to the iPhone. My view is that it's very unlikely, especially in the next 2-3 years. There are several major reasons:

  • Tablets have a cellular "attach rate" of  less than 20%. Operators want to increase this. Phones have an attach rate of 100% already.
  • Tablets don't need a phone number. Data devices can (& do) switch between networks easily, so short-term contracts and "ephemeral" connections work fine. Phones do need a stable phone number, which would need to be ported if you switch providers - and which obviously cannot be ported internationally. (We may be able to go number-free eventually, but not yet)
  • There is an agreed standard & set of business processes for programmable SIMs for M2M-type applications (eUICC), which tablets fall into. There isn't an equivalent standard for phones - and judging from GSMA and operators' clear lack of enthusiam, there won't be one any time soon. Given this model requires operator consent, that is a major stumbling block. Apple might try to end-run this with a couple of renegade operators, but I have my doubts.
  • Tablets, along with many other M2M devices, don't fit well with the retail model for mobile phones and phone-oriented SIM cards. Customers buy tablets in computer shops, not phone shops. Or they order them online. While some might overlap (especially phablets), that's the exception. Getting SIM cards into the computer retail/online channel is hard (as is getting SIMs into car retailers, camera retailers, electric appliance channels and so forth). Staff in those stores or websites are not trained to sell cellular plans. So having "blank" SIM cards pre-ship from warehouses by the manufacturer reduces friction massively. Conversely, the mobile phone channel is pretty good at selling both phones and cards.
  • Tablet usage is very different to phone usage. People have much "burstier" patterns of needing mobile access - when travelling, when in places with poor or expensive WiFi, with children, with work and numerous other variables. Many are not conducive to traditional, monthly subscriptions, so mechanisms that allow short-term use is beneficial.
Aside from this, many observers have also suggested that Apple wants to be an MVNO, or try to get carriers to pay to be one of the menu choices, or take cuts of the various iPad-specific data plans. I have huge doubts about this. I don't think Apple wants to be an MNO or MVNO. The margins are lower, the customer support headaches are higher (billing systems & queries, anyone?), there's a ton of regulatory hassle, and - ultimately - mobile services represent a market that has already peaked. Plus, many operators subsidise iPhones hugely, which eases their path into the market. Potentially, Apple could offer its own finance/subsidy plans - but that then just turns it into a bank, with all the credit risk that involves.

And of course, this is not to mention the low likelihood that operators are willing to do this anyway, and that MVNOs are not legal or easy to set up in many countries, besides. And, finally, Apple isn't going to want to put itself on the hook for operators' network deficiencies, outages and so on. It might try out one country - or even set itself up with a Dutch-style newly-liberalised MNC code (ask me offline for details of why this is interesting) and try to do roaming deals instead of MVNOs - but that's some way off as well as not necessarily being an attractive commercial proposition.

What Apple does want, as always, is higher-priced, higher-margin hardware. It makes a big chunk of its profits from selling upgrades - more memory, external covers/batteries and so on. A lot of Apple's profit comes from - essentially - selling memory chips at retail prices far above what it pays for them wholesale. The cellular variants of the iPad are £100 or US$130 higher - and you can bet that the cellular modem probably costs Apple $50 or less in incremental price. Added to that, it is possible that Apple gets some sort of "bounty" payment from carriers when users activate a SIM - which is sort-of equivalent to a subsidy.   

So if Apple can sell 10m more cellular-enabled iPads, it can probably make a tidy extra billion or so for very little effort. To make an extra billion of profit out of taking a slim margin on lots of MNO data plans would be much harder work.

Is all this a precursor to a long-run approach to full Soft-SIMs? Maybe. But my guess is that Apple will try to get in front of the next curve rather than try and subvert the status quo. It recently joined the NGMN in the hope of helping define 5G. I wouldn't be surprised if it suggests SIM-optional or Soft-SIM models in that forum. A successful programmable SIM in the iPad would give a nice weight of evidence about the possible benefits.

Overall, I think the Apple SIM is definitely interesting. But it's not the game-changer that many people think. It's not obviously a thin-end-of-the-wedge, or slippery-slope, or any other similar metaphor. It's specifically a win-win-win approach to get more tablets to use 4G networks. It learns from the failed attempts at getting 3G-embedded laptops into the market (which I predicted in 2008) by getting the processes more aligned with consumer needs. It doesn't relate to phones, at least for a long time.

I've also realised one other absolute, killer argument that seriously limits the role of any future programmable or SoftSIM model. It's one I haven't seen discussed in any articles about the Apple SIM so far. I'm not going to be revealing it on this blog either - but it's big enough that many of the "doomsday scenarios" for operators become almost impossible to realise. Instead, I'm going to be thinking about the implications a bit more deeply, and writing it up for my mobile broadband research subscribers only, in the forthcoming update to my "non-neutral" mobile broadband report due out in November. The information and purchase page is here. (If you urgently need the "big reveal", I can let you know the outline by email in advance, if you buy the report).
    20 Oct 15:00

    123 East Pender Street

    by ChangingCity


    It would seem that this building was originally built in 1908, although we don’t know who designed it. It’s attributed to W H Chow – but we haven’t found anything to confirm that.

    The first buildings on this site were two houses, addressed as 117 and 119 Dupont Street. They were on the site before 1901 – in 1895 the first time they appeared in the street directory they were occupied by Miss Annie Hood and Miss E Johnson. The ladies’ profession was one of the reasons the street name was switched from Dupont to Princess in 1898, once they’d been persuaded to move on.

    A little later the name switched again, this time to East Pender, and in 1908 this location appears as ‘New Block’ and a year later a series of Chinese businesses had opened their doors, including Charlie Won & Co who sold cigars and fruits, and Yuen Sang Co listed as Chinese merchants. When it was first built this really wasn’t a Chinese-styled building at all, although it was in the heart of Chinatown, and all the tenants over the years were Chinese. That was the rule – not the exception – in design terms; there were no ‘Chinese’ style balconies on any Chinatown buildings built before 1900, and relatively few before 1910.

    There’s a permit to David Lew for 1910 to build a brick building on this site, but only for $550 – so possibly an outbuilding on Market Alley (at the back of the building). In the same year Loo Gee Wing, a very active Chinese developer also obtained a permit for changes to an office in the building. David Lew knew Loo Gee Wing – he had been his secretary from 1901 to 1905, having had a Canadian education in his teens, and probably training as a lawyer (although being Chinese he wasn’t permitted to practice law). Given how much property he owned nearby, it’s entirely reasonable to think Mr Loo might have been the developer of the building in 1908. (Mr Lew became an important Chinatown interpreter; he represented all the Chinese traders who sought compensation in the 1908 hearing chaired by McKenzie King. His death in 1924 was dramatic; he was shot to death outside 5 West Hastings in a professional ‘hit’ that was never solved.)

    By 1913 a Mr. Hamilton was the owner of the building. F Hamilton hired C Ting to make repairs in 1913. (There’s another permit for 1914 when W H Chow designed repairs for Quang Sang & Co at 125 1/2), and then a series of further repairs for owners identified as F J Hamilton in 1915 for 125 (again by W H Chow), repairs designed and built by Toy Get for ‘Hamilton’ in 1916, for M Hamilton in 1917 and N Hamilton in 1918. Finally W F Hamilton made repairs to 121 E Pender in 1917.

    We assume all these various Hamiltons were really Frank Hamilton, who is said to be shown in the picture. Frank is elusive – various Francis and Frank Hamiltons come and go, but in 1915 a Frank J Hamilton was living in an apartment in Nicola Street. There’s a picture of a new 1908 house on Burrard Street identified as belonging to Francis J Hamilton, and another (or the same) Frank Hamilton was a resident in Cedar Cottage in South Vancouver, working for the Vancouver Creamery Co.

    At some point around 1920 the building was acquired by new owners. The elaborate balconies were added in 1921 when a $14,000 reconstruction of the upper part of the building took place. The top floor was removed, but the store front looks as if it’s still the original 1908 millwork. The architects were G L Southwell and J A Radford – although neither were well-known architects; Southwell was a draughtsman (wrongly identified as Southall on the permit) and Radford was frequently employed by the Vancouver Sun to illustrate articles and prepare reviews of exhibitions. Their clients were one of Chinatown’s family associations, the Wong Kung Har Tong (the Wong family association). There were new meeting rooms behind recessed balconies, a key feature of the later Chinatown architectural style.

    Other community associations also came to be associated with the building including the Chinese Community Club and the Hai Fung Association. They show the evolution of the role of community associations in Chinatown; the Hai Fung Association is a more recent youth organization established independently of the older place and surname associations. Hai Fung attracted new immigrants who brought with them new ideas about the meaning of being Chinese in Canada, challenging the established tongs.

    The Mon Keang School was established on the third floor in 1925, teaching the Chinese language and customs to the tusheng, or children of overseas Chinese born in Canada. This reflected the value placed on education in perpetuating Chinese culture, and because it gave Canadian-born children the skills required to function successfully in a predominantly Chinese-speaking environment.


    20 Oct 14:26

    Hard Times

    We’ve received two indignant letters from educators whose old copies of Tinderbox require upgrades to work with OS X Yosemite. Why do they have to pay for upgrades?

    I suspect this is a much more significant leading economic indicator than the declining stock market: educated people with exceptionally secure and good jobs in cosmopolitan cities are willing to damage long-standing relationships to save less than $100.

    Some day we’ll look back on this and it will all seem funny.

    Hard Times
    20 Oct 15:40

    Slow, Slow, Fast

    A great number of societal shifts take place in a three step fashion: slow, slow, fast. 

    The underlying cause is about the spread of innovations. A new innovation arrives on the scene and is embraced by a small group of innovators, but other, more conservative people deny any interest in the innovation, and embrace the technology or practice that is being potentially disrupted. 

    After a while, early adopters see the utility of the innovation and adopt it, but the majority remain unconvinced, although they are more likely now to come into contact with those that come aboard to the innovation. 

    Then, after a while, the innovation ‘crosses the chasm’ (to use the phrase that Geoffrey Moore made famous, popularizing the work of Ed Rogers, who wrote Diffusion Of Innovations), and then things move fast.

    We are at that stage now for cloud computing, and that’s why the ground is suddenly changing under the  feet of the mainstream IT solutions and computing companies.

    IBM has abandoned its plan to deliver $20 a share in profits by 2015, a long-professed goal, and this is due to the rapid shifts in its clients’ buying behavior. Unlike other companies that are responding to these challenges by breaking themselves into two or more independent companies, like HP, IBM is shedding businesses where margins are falling as the gravity fields are being realigned. The newest example is the company’s PowerPC chip business, spun out with a sweetener of $1.5 billion. The company’s quarterly numbers were bad: 14% lower in profits than expected.

    SAP has revised its projections for the year downward, citing the transition to cloud solutions. The firm says it will catch up on lower-cost cloud competitors in the ‘long run’, but that might just be wishful thinking.

    What is coming? As we slide into the third part of slow, slow, fast things will move more quickly than the decision loops at these older, larger, and slower companies. They will be forced to sell off, spin out, or break apart in order to become quick enough to stay ahead of the event horizon. 

    This disruption is not transitional, but foundational, and will extend to the bedrock of the IT world, and as a result not a single large, established, IT behemoth will remain untouched: they will all have to remake themselves — rework their DNA — or lose everything. 

    20 Oct 16:03

    Three things I learned about Chinatown

    by pricetags

    This Sunday, I joined a tour hosted by the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of B.C. – “On the Streets and Up the Stairs” – where, four flights above Pender Street, we were welcomed here:



    This is the meeting room for the Mah Society of North America – one of the family/clan societies that provided mutual help to those Chinese, overwhelmingly male, who had few options for support outside Chinatown in a hostile Vancouver.  Over the last century, these societies acquired their own buildings, constructing them floor-by-floor on narrow lots primarily along Pender Street.  (You can find out much more here, in a 2005 report done for the City by CCHS on society buildings.)

    Looking down from the walls are the faces of prominent members who, maintaining dignity in a discriminatory society, would likely be surprised to experience the Vancouver of today:



    Some today – like Councillor Kerry Jang (second from left, below) – represent all of Vancouver, even as the societies struggle to find a relevant role in the large, amorphous Chinese community, many of whose recent arrivals have no historical or geographical relationship to the benevolent associations or even to Chinatown.



    Our guides were John Atkin and Bob Sung, here on either side of Larry Wong, below, whose memoir, Dim Sum Stories, reveals the world of his childhood and youth in Cinhatown, from the 1940s to ’60s.



    From them, I learned three intriguing things about the design of the society buildings:

    Only the benevolent societies had buildings with outdoor inset balconies, a style (often crudely imitated in faux-heritage design mistakenly thought to be a generic architectural feature of southern ‘Chinese’ design).



    Secondly, the floors were often added over time, each serving a particular purpose: one for a hospital, another for society meeting rooms, others for commercial uses.

    And third, there were no secret tunnels or hidden rooms (constructions of a xenophobic media taking their original cue from Charles Dickens’s last novel) nor were there even courtyards, at least in Vancouver with its shallow lots and dividing lanes – except in one case behind the Yue Shan building, the consequence of the serendipity of construction over time.



    A narrow passageway leads to Pender Street to the south; the backs of ancient storefronts, now blocked over, are evidence of the shops that used to line Market Alley to the north – a possible restoration of which might be in the future as energy and diversity return to Chinatown over the next decade.   But it won’t be the Chinatown of memory, or even the one of today, which is already going through a transition as new and non-Chinese-related businesses move in and new condos are constructed.

    But the one key thing I learned: without the presence of the benevolent associations, just as in the past century, there is no true Chinatown.




    Next event for the CCHS is “From the Silk Road: Asia in Fashion, Fashion in Asia.”

    Fashion historian Ivan Sayers will expand your fashion knowledge as he presents extraordinary historic clothing from his own world-class collection.

    Thursday, November 6

    6 pm (program at 6:30 pm)

    Richmond Cultural Centre Performance Hall, 7700 Minoru Gate

    Before Nov 6 – $30, at door – $35

    Tickets here.  Event 814008.

    20 Oct 16:30

    The Endless Quest For More Activity Is Killing Our Communities

    by Richard Millington

    For just over a year now, I've spoken to community professionals who bristle at the same problem.

    The way we make decisions for our community is wrong.

    We make decisions that will increase activity in a community.

    We're measured by our success in increasing activity (or member counts).

    If we succeed, we have a very active platform. But a very active platform isn't a community. You don't get the benefits that a community provides.

    In fact, many of the actions we take to increase activity destroy the sense of community. 

    Community professionals build communities

    We are community professionals. Our goal is to create communities. We need to stop making decisions that will increase activity and starting make decisions that will increase the sense of community. Sometimes we get lucky. The two are closely correlated.

    Communities aren't highly active platforms. The're not technology, they're not cost savings, they're not even people.

    They're the psychological feeling that people believe they are part of a community. We often need to do things that seem strange to develop that sense of community. We might reduce the focus of the community, create strong boundaries to joining, celebrate a minor member milestone, participate in seemingly silly social events. 

    But, every single one of these actions, is carefully considered to create a stronger sense of community. 

    Too often we push too hard on activity and forget what we're trying to do is get people to feel a sense of community.

    Creating this sense of community helps us achieve goals. Those goals include knowledge exchange, social capital, customer loyalty, better collaboration, and cost reductions. 

    Every single decision and action you take in your community should be designed to increase the sense of community that members feel with one another.

    This will usually mean it answers positively to one of the following questions: 


    1) Will this decision make boundaries between insiders/outsiders more visible?

    2) Will this decision make people feel safer voicing their emotions on a topic?

    3) Will this decision increase the sense of belonging and identification with the group?

    4) Will this decision encourage people to invest more (time, energy, and emotions) within the community?

    5) Will this decision help spread a common symbol system?


    1) Will this decision give members more influence within the group (i.e. to make things happen?)

    2) Will this decision help the group achieve goals external to the group? (group efficacy)

    Integration and fulfillment of needs

    1) Will this decision allow members to achieve a higher status within their community?

    2) Will this decision give members a better sense of belonging (i.e. not feeling alone), explore a topic with others like them, support one another through unique circumstances, or allow them to achieve things they can't alone? 

    Shared emotional connection

    1) Will this decision increase the frequency of contact and familiarity between members?

    2) Will this decision improve the quality of contact (i.e. move the contact up the hiearchy of communication

    3) Will this decision give close to previous shared activities between members?

    4) Will this decision help establish or reinforce agreed group norms? (i.e. not your norms enforced upon a group)

    There are two follow-up questions to every positive answer. "How will it achieve this?" and "is there any better way of achieving this?" (better = cheaper, faster, more reliable, more effective.)

    Using this framework

    The difference in using this framework is you often forgo increased activity in favour of developing a stronger sense of community

    A gamification system might increase activity, but no-one has shown it linked to creating a stronger sense of community (it might even do the opposite). 

    Paying a six-figure sum for an expensive, good-looking, platform might increase activity. However, imagine you used that money to directly help your members (or the community) achieve it's goal (it's reason for existing). That would create an incredible sense of shared success that no platform change would ever match.

    We need to embed the notion of sense of community deep within our decision making process. Will the actions we take in our community today lead to a stronger sense of community? 

    More importantly, we need to measure our success by improving the sense of community (using a quarterly/bi-annual survey - SCI2) and not via the activity metrics. Activity is good. Lots of activity might be really good. But it might also be a complete waste of time if it doesn't also entail a stronger sense of community. 

    It's an urgent problem

    Organisations are wasting thousands, often millions, on tactics designed to increase activity in a community. They're spending months panicking about how to increase activity and ignoring the fundamental thing that reliably does increase activity (a stronger sense of community). 

    They don't see the ROI of their efforts and think it's because they don't have enough activity. This is almost never the case. The reason a positive ROI isn't achieve is because you've got a lot of activity but a more limited sense of community. 

    This then creates the belief that communities themselves don't work. That, maybe, communities don't generate a positive ROI. This couldn't be further from the truth. The truth is communities do generate an incredible ROI, they just haven't developed one yet. 

    If we could do one thing better right now, it's to align all our efforts to creating a stronger sense of community in every group to which we're a member and stop endlessly trying to boost activity.

    20 Oct 17:53

    What Michael Geller noticed

    by pricetags

    He’s in London, and this is what he saw:



    What I find odd about some business and community leaders in a town like Vancouver: their tepid and often begrudging (when not hostile) response to cycling and bike lanes suggests a lack of awareness of what is happening in the world around them because it’s not change that reinforces their worldview or adds to their personal benefit.  Geller, coward or not, sees change in other places that makes it more understandable at home.

    20 Oct 18:03

    Seniors: “They assume they’re going to drive forever”

    by pricetags

    This story from the New York Times has had a lot of play on the transportation blogs and sites – and no wonder: When Planning for Retirement, Consider Transportation


    During retirement planning, transportation is often an afterthought. Yet, figuring transportation into plans is essential, experts say.

    According to the American Journal of Public Health, Americans are outliving their ability to drive safely — a woman, on average, by 10 years, a man by seven. Over all, the ability to drive safely as one ages depends on health. Some people can drive into their 90s while others begin to cut back at 65.

    SeniorAnd yet, most people prefer not to think about the day when they have to rely on others or use public transportation for routine activities. “People avoid the topic,” said Beth Shapiro, a licensed clinical social worker in Rockville, Md., who runs the Jewish Social Service Agency’s “To Drive or Not to Drive” program.

    “When people make retirement plans, they make no transportation plans because they assume they’re going to drive forever,” said Katherine Freund, founder and president of the Independent Transportation Network, a nonprofit organization that provides rides for older adults, with 27 affiliates throughout the country. Nationally, for those over 65, 2 to 3 percent of what distance they travel is on public transportation, 8 percent on foot and the rest by car, Ms. Freund said. …

    When planning ahead, think about whether you prefer to stay in your community, plan to downsize or will relocate. According to a 2014 AARP study, by age 65 and older, 87 percent of people want to remain in their current community as they age. Financial and family considerations play a role in decisions about where to live.

    “If you’re 55, you have to project out into the future,” Ms. Bonilla said. …

    Transportation is the second highest household expense after housing, according the Office of Planning, Environment and Realty, which is part of the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

    Those living in households that are car-dependent spend 25 percent of income on transportation. By living closer to work, shopping, restaurants and other amenities, households can reduce transportation costs to 9 percent of their total income. …

    Potentially filling the void are a number of new transportation services that provide rides for a fee, including Uber, Lyft and Sidecar. Some senior housing communities have shuttle buses that take residents to medical appointments; each one is different, so it is important to check when you are considering places to live.

    Whatever decision you make about where to live and transportation, here are some guidelines from experts:

    ANALYZE your current neighborhood in terms of where you typically need and want to go, and determine how you might reach those places if you weren’t driving. Include leisure activities like classes, entertainment and simply meeting friends. “Think about how you’re going to do that when you can no longer drive,” Ms. Bonilla said. “Lay out a grid and see how far these trips are from your home. That will determine where you live, whether you stay in your home.”

    20 Oct 18:17

    Data Fluency, Coming Soon

    by Nathan Yau

    Data FluencyThere's a new addition to the FlowingData book series on the way. It's called Data Fluency: Empowering Your Organization With Effective Data Communication. It's by the founders of Juice Analytics Zach and Chris Gemignani and is available for pre-order at the major online booksellers. Copies are also making their way to the brick-and-mortars.


    As I assumed the technical editor role for the first time, I'll talk more about the book soon, but Zach and Chris probably sum it up best:

    Our hope is that this book starts a new kind of conversation in the analytics field — one that incorporates the people side as much as the tools, techniques, and technologies. We hope it spurs individuals and organizations to start on a journey toward making data a more useful tool for sharing ideas.

    Pre-order it on Amazon.

    20 Oct 18:54

    Puzzle Picture: Is this real?

    by pricetags

    What is this man photographing on the forest floor in Stanley Park?


    Mushroom (3)



    Mushroom (1)


    These mushrooms hardly seem real.  And yet …

    Anyone know?

    20 Oct 00:00

    Learners don’t know what’s best for them

    Mark Guzdial, Computing Education Blog, Oct 23, 2014

    Can autodidacticism be taught? That is, can you learn how to learn for yourself? It would seem obvious that you can - for example, you can be taught to read, which is a major component of learning for yourself, you can be taught experimentation through examples such as Mythbusters, and you can be taught learning strategies, logic and inference. Most of us could be taught these at a fairly young age. I was, through a standard public school education supplemented with a voracious reading of classic literature. But, I guess, most people aren't.

    Why does this matter? It matters because I have encountered yet another blog post (citing  people like  Paul A. Kirschner yet again) making the claim that "learners don’ t know what’ s best for  them." The argument boils down to two major premises: that students can't (or won't) make good choices, and they can't (or won't) tackle difficult tasks. The slightest observation of people out there on their own actually learning (everything from digital photography to road cycling to bird-watching to home repair) refutes both points. But evidence isn't sufficient for people like the aforementioned Kirschner, who prefers to use cherrypicked facts and carefully designed studies. But this should give people pause: what is the evidence that people cannot learn how to learn for themselves? I contend that it does not exist, and that merely citing studies of people (like hairdressing students) who have not yet learned proves nothing.

    [Link] [Comment]
    20 Oct 17:10

    New Scripting News home page coming

    The reason things are so sparse here the last week or so is that there's a new version of Scripting News coming, and all my energies are focused there.

    It'll have the linkblog and the river on the same page with the blog posts in a tabbed interface.

    It'll be using all the latest JavaScript technology. "Radio3", "River4", "Fargo", "Little Card Editor" etc.

    It's time that things start rolling up. ;-)

    Still diggin as someone said once a long time ago.


    20 Oct 17:27

    20 Oct 16:58

    Apple Releases iOS 8.1 – Here’s What’s New

    by Federico Viticci

    Following an official announcement at a media event last week, Apple today released iOS 8.1, the first major update to iOS 8, which was originally launched in September.

    As Apple's Craig Federighi noted last week, Apple uses the launch of major new versions of iOS to collect “feedback” and quickly release bug fixes, address questions and concerns, and ship improvements that didn't make the cut for the first release.

    iOS 8.1 brings bug fixes, speed improvements, and interface changes, but it also enables Continuity features such as Text Message Forwarding and Instant Hotspot, allowing iOS devices to better integrate with each other and Macs running OS X Yosemite. With iOS 8.1, Apple is opening access to its iCloud Photo Library beta – an iCloud service that stores all your photos from all your devices, in a single library that relays changes to every device. And last, iOS 8.1 marks the debut of Apple Pay, the company's new payment service that rolls out in the US today.

    iOS 8.1 is available through Software Update now. You can find a list of the most notable changes below; you can read our previous iOS 8 coverage here.

    Changes in iOS 8.1

    There is a new “Enable Dictation toggle” in Settings > General > Keyboards. This allows you to toggle dictation for the Apple keyboards that you have enabled in the Settings.

    The Camera Roll makes a comeback in iOS 8.1, replacing the highly criticized “Recently Added” photo album. With iOS 8, Apple changed the behavior of the Photos app, removing the Camera Roll in favor of an album that displayed “the photos and videos added to your device in the last 30 days, organized by date” (Apple support document on the feature). The change wasn't well received by iPhone and iPad users, and iOS 8.1 brings back the traditional Camera Roll (all your photos, in chronological order) under Photos > Albums.

    iCloud Photo Library can now be enabled as a beta in Settings > Photos & Camera. iCloud Photo Library automatically uploads and stores all your photos and videos on iCloud, allowing you to view them and edit them on any device.

    Every photo and video you take now lives in iCloud — giving you the freedom to access your library from any device, anytime you want. So you can view a photo from last week or last year no matter where you are.

    Some points to note about iCloud Photo Library:

    • There are two settings for photos: Optimize Storage and Download and Keep Originals. The former will store device-optimized versions of your photos in the Photos app; tapping them will preview them by quickly downloading a higher-res version. The latter stores full-res versions of photos locally, consuming more storage space.
    • Once enabled, you'll be able to find a web app for iCloud Photo Library at, which allows you to view and manage photos from a web browser.
    • With iCloud Photo Library turned on, the Camera Roll album becomes All Photos.

    iOS 8.1 enables the Text Message Forwarding feature (also known as SMS Relay) that was first announced alongside iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite at WWDC. Once enabled on an iPhone and other devices signed into the same iMessage account, this feature allows you to send and receive SMS text messages on any device. It means that you'll be able to reply to SMS on your Mac or iPad, using your iPhone as a relay hub.

    Once installed and if you're signed into the same iMessage account with other devices, iOS 8.1 will ask if you want to enable Text Message Forwarding from your iPhone. A code will be displayed on your iPhone and you'll be asked to enter it on devices such as an iPad or Mac.

    After enabling Text Message Forwarding, your non-iPhone devices that wouldn't otherwise be capable of sending regular text messages will be able to send and receive SMS through your iPhone in the Messages app.

    You can see devices you've enabled for Text Message Forwarding and disable the feature on your iPhone by going to Settings > Messages > Text Message Forwarding.

    For more information, check out our guide on iOS 8.1 and Continuity here.

    With Instant Hotspot, you can now connect (tether) to iOS devices without having to manually enable Personal Hotspot first. Simply make sure that all your devices are signed into the same iCloud account, and, for instance, your iPhone will appear as as an option in the list of WiFi connections on your Mac. The same applies to iPads and iPhones – go to the Settings app, open the WiFi page, and you'll see Personal Hotspots from your devices even if they don't have the Personal Hotspot toggle set to on. You'll be able to instantly connect to them without typing a password because iCloud is authenticating you across all your devices.

    A nice detail of this feature is that you can see the signal and battery level of the hotspot device directly from the connection's screen.

    The interface for third-party app settings in the Settings app has been slightly tweaked.

    When in editing mode, the app icons for available widgets in Notification Center are slightly larger now.

    Apple Pay has been enabled in iOS 8.1, allowing users of iPhones and iPads to pay through their credit cards configured with Apple Pay and Passbook. The feature is limited to the US for now, and it'll work with various NFC terminals and apps. You can ask Siri to show your credit cards (Passbook should open), and you can learn more here.

    iBooks has a new icon, matching the marketing materials and screenshots from Apple's website.

    The “My Photo Stream” album is also back in the Photos app under Albums.

    20 Oct 08:28

    Book review: Graph Theory and Complex Networks by Maarten van Steen

    by Ian Hopkinson

    graph_theoryMy last read, on the Gephi graph visualisation package, was a little disappointing but gave me an enthusiasm for Graph Theory. So I picked up one of the books that it recommended: Graph Theory and Complex Networks: An Introduction by Maarten van Steen to learn more. In this context a graph is a collection of vertices connected by edges, the edges may be directed or undirected. The road network is an example of a graph; the junctions between roads are vertices, the edges are roads and a one way street is a directed edge – two-way streets are undirected.

    Why study graph theory?

    Graph theory underpins a bunch of things like route finding, timetabling, map colouring, communications routing, sol-gel transitions, ecologies, parsing mathematical expressions and so forth. It’s been a staple of Computer Science undergraduate courses for a while, and more recently there’s been something of a resurgence in the field with systems on the web provided huge quantities of graph-shaped data both in terms of the underlying hardware networks and the activities of people – the social networks.

    Sometimes the links between graph theory and an application are not so obvious. For example, project planning can be understood in terms of graph theory. A task can depend on another task – the tasks being two vertices in a graph. The edge between such vertices is directed, from one to the other, indicating dependency. To give a trivial example: you need a chicken to lay an egg. As a whole a graph of tasks cannot contain loops (or cycles) since this would imply that a task depended on a task that could only be completed after it, itself had been completed. To return to my example: if you need an egg in order to get a chicken to lay an egg then you’re in trouble! Generally, networks of tasks should be directed acyclic graphs (or DAG) i.e. they should not contain cycles.

    The book’s target audience is 1st or 2nd year undergraduates with moderate background in mathematics, it was developed for Computer Science undergraduates. The style is quite mathematical but fairly friendly. The author’s intention is to introduce the undergraduate to mathematical formalism. I found this useful, since mathematical symbols are difficult to search for and shorthands such  as operator overloading even more so. This said, it is still an undergraduate text rather than a popular accounts don’t expect an easy read or pretty pictures, or even pretty illustrations.

    The book divides into three chunks. The first provides the basic language for describing graphs, both words and equations. The second part covers theorems arising from some of the basic definitions, including the ideas of “walks” – traversals of a graph which take in all vertices and “tours” which take in all edges. This includes long standing problems such as the Dijkstra’s algorithm for route finding, and the travelling salesman problem. Also included in this section are “trees” – networks with no cycles – where is a cycle is a closed walk which visits vertices just once.

    The third section covers the analysis of graphs. This starts with metrics for measuring graphs such as vertex degree distributions, distance statistics and clustering measures. I found this section rather brief, and poorly illustrated. However, it is followed by an introduction to various classes of complex networks including the original random graphs(connect), small-world and scale-free networks. What is stuck me about complex graphs is that they are each complex in their own way. Random, small-world and scale-free networks are all methods for constructing a network in order to try to represent a known real world situation. Small-world networks arise from one of Stanley Milgram’s experiments: sending post across the US via social networks. The key feature is that there are clusters of people who know each other but these clusters are linked by the odd “longer range” contact.

    The book finishes with some real world examples relating to the world wide web, peer-to-peer sharing algorithms and social networks. What struck me in social networks is that the vertices (people!) you identify as important can depend quite sensitively on the metric you use to measure importance.

    I picked up Graph Theory after I’d been working with Gephi, wanting to learn more about the things that Gephi will measure for me. It serves that purpose pretty well. In addition I have a better feel for situations where the answer is “graph theory”. Furthermore, Gephi has a bunch of network generators to create random, small-world and scale-free networks so that you can try out what you’ve learned.

    20 Oct 12:27

    The Imaginary App: a new book from Software Studies series @ The MIT Press

    by Lev Manovich

    The latest book from Software Studies series at The MIT Press:

    The Imaginary App

    Edited by Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid) and Svitlana Matviyenko. The MIT Press, 2014.

    From the publisher:

    Mobile apps promise to deliver (h)appiness to our devices at the touch of a finger or two. Apps offer gratifyingly immediate access to connection and entertainment. The array of apps downloadable from the app store may come from the cloud, but they attach themselves firmly to our individual movement from location to location on earth. In The Imaginary App, writers, theorists, and artists--including Stephen Wolfram (in conversation with Paul Miller) and Lev Manovich--explore the cultural and technological shifts that have accompanied the emergence of the mobile app. These contributors and interviewees see apps variously as “a machine of transcendence,” “a hulking wound in our nervous system,” or “a promise of new possibilities.” They ask whether the app is an object or a relation, and if it could be a “metamedium” that supersedes all other artistic media. They consider the control and power exercised by software architecture; the app’s prosthetic ability to enhance certain human capacities, in reality or in imagination; the app economy, and the divergent possibilities it offers of making a living or making a fortune; and the app as medium and remediator of reality.

    Also included (and documented in color) are selected projects by artists asked to design truly imaginary apps, “icons of the impossible.” These include a female sexual arousal graph using Doppler images; “The Ultimate App,” which accepts a payment and then closes, without providing information or functionality; and “iLuck,” which uses GPS technology and four-leaf-clover icons to mark places where luck might be found.


    Christian Ulrik Andersen, Thierry Bardini, Nandita Biswas Mellamphy, Benjamin H. Bratton, Drew S. Burk, Patricia Ticineto Clough, Robbie Cormier, Dock Currie, Dal Yong Jin, Nick Dyer-Witheford, Ryan and Hays Holladay, Atle Mikkola Kjøsen, Eric Kluitenberg, Lev Manovich, Vincent Manzerolle, Svitlana Matviyenko, Dan Mellamphy, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid, Steven Millward, Anna Munster, Søren Bro Pold, Chris Richards, Scott Snibbe, Nick Srnicek, Stephen Wolfram.

    About Software Studies series at MIT Press:

    The Software Studies series publishes the best new work in a critical and experimental field that is at once culturally and technically literate, reflecting the reality of today’s software culture. The field of software studies engages and contributes to the research of computer scientists, the work of software designers and engineers, and the creations of software artists. Software studies tracks how software is substantially integrated into the processes of contemporary culture and society. It does this both in the scholarly modes of the humanities and social sciences and in the software creation/research modes of computer science, the arts, and design.

    Software Studies series co-editors:

    Dr. Noah Wardrip-Fruin, The University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).

    Dr. Lev Manovich, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY).

    The cover of The Imaginary App

    20 Oct 12:07

    Seeking the next Alan Turing – the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge

    by Lance Howarth

    Last week saw the London Film Festival open with the premier of The Imitation Game, a film which chronicles the awe-inspiring work of Alan Turing cracking the German naval Enigma machine at Bletchley Park, Britain’s code breaking centre during WWII.


    Alan Turing was a man of startling intellect and one of the founding fathers of computer science. After his work at Bletchley, Alan Turing went on to make significant contributions to the development of ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and later on the Manchester Mark 1 at Manchester University. Turing was a mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, computer scientist, mathematical biologist, and also a marathon and ultra-distance runner (all qualities to which I can only aspire and fail to measure up on every count). Of course, the tragedy of his life is how he was persecuted and prosecuted for his sexuality, which ultimately led to him taking his own life. This injustice was eventually recognised by the British Government in 2012, leading to a posthumous pardon by HM Queen Elizabeth in 2013. To this day Alan Turing remains one of the most notable figures in the development of computing in the UK.


    As an undergraduate at King’s College Cambridge, Alan Turing studied mathematics. It was during this time he did his seminal work on computation. Turing devised a methodology of describing hypothetical abstract machines, and demonstrated such machines are capable of performing any mathematical computation if it could be represented as an algorithmTuring machines are a central object of study in the theory of computation. Building on this earlier work in 1949 Turing proposed an experiment, the Turing test. In this test Turing attempted to understand and define the basis of machine “intelligence”. Turing’s assertion was that a computational device could be said to be “intelligent” if a human interrogator could not distinguish between the responses from the machine and that of another human being, through conversation alone. To this day the Turing test continues to spark debate around the meaning of artificial intelligence, so in homage of his work we’ve created an educational resource – a whole scheme of work for KS2 and KS3 – for teachers to explore the Turing experiment.

    Turing Test lesson plan

    At Bletchley, Turing had a bit of a reputation. He was nicknamed “The Prof” in recognition of his curious mannerism, his intellect and his understanding of computation. Here at Pi Towers, we are keen on all things computing, and we are always looking for ways to grow the next generation of Turings, so in conjunction with ARM Holdings and Oxford University we are proud to support and sponsor the UK Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge.


    The Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge is open to all schools in the UK, for pupils from Year 2 to Year 13, and runs during the week beginning November 10. The challenge is free to enter, takes about 40 minutes and is completed online. If you are not sure what to expect, you can have a go at questions from previous year’s competitions here, but if you are interested in taking part in this year’s competition your school must register by October 31. Not in the UK ? Don’t worry, this is only the UK chapter of an international competition, so you can find out your national organising body at the Bebras site under countries.

    20 Oct 12:52

    Gmail 5.0 will add support for Yahoo, Outlook and other email services

    by Rajesh Pandey
    Most of the Google apps for Android have already received a partial or complete Material Design makeover except for Gmail, which is undoubtedly, the most important app of them all. Continue reading →
    20 Oct 13:34

    No Longer Ageism in American Cycling: True in Vancouver?

    by pricetags

    Last week’s Comment from



    The basis for that?

    I’ve been using every opportunity over the last few months to talk up a fact I noticed in June: biking is still growing a bit among people ages 18-24. But almost all the growth in the last decade actually comes from older people. American biking rates are now almost identical among people aged 25 to 54, and (this really knocks my socks off) almost identical among people aged 55 to 84.

    Is Vancouver’s ‘biking rate’ the same for people 25 to 54 as it is for those 55 to 84?

    20 Oct 14:30

    Email Exchange Between Sam Harris and C.J. Werleman

    CJ Werleman tweeted “Sam Harris is the Pat Robertson of atheism” to his 10,000 followers and linked to a libelous article entitled “Sam Harris Slurs Malala” (I had actually written that Malala deserved the Nobel Peace Prize and that she was the best thing to come out of the Muslim world in a thousand years).  So I contacted Werleman, initiating the following exchange:

    October 21, 2013 9:24 AM

    Interesting, CJ. Did you actually read my blog post, or just the Salon hit piece?



    Oct 21, 2013, at 9:46 AM

    Hi Sam,

    No, I didn’t read your blog. Having said that, I actually disagreed with much of the Salon piece. In fact, I think it spun your words to serve its own agenda.

    My disagreement is with your broader position on Islamic terrorism. I believe it’s motivated purely by political objective. You believe it starts and ends with religious fundamentalism, and whether you intend to or not, it makes us atheists sound eerily similar to those who speak from the right wing echo chamber.

    Obviously, that’s harsh criticism given your service to atheism. You have liberated millions of minds, and I count myself as one of your fans. But on the subject of Islam, I believe you miss the point. It’s a travesty, because you have the influence to change minds and foreign policy….but your comments get used to justify neo-conservatism.

    I appreciate your note.



    October 21, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    Incredible… You brand me the “Pat Robertson of atheism,” linking to this drivel on Salon and forwarding to thousands of people, without ever checking to see if the writer has misrepresented my views (which he has, in every relevant respect).

    And then you want me to debate you?


    October 21, 2013 at 11:18:30 AM

    Ha, I see your point : )

    I often err on the side of extreme rhetoric to make a point. Do I think you’re the PR of atheism? No. And I owe you an apology on that, and I have deleted that tweet. But the rhetoric that comes from those who lean towards an anti-Islam position over an anti-foreign policy position sounds a little PR/FOX/Coulter like, which ultimately serves to keep the country making poor errors of judgment when it comes to our use of the military.



    Werleman subsequently wrote an article entitled “Atheist Authors Feud Over Islamic Extremism” based on the previous email exchange. He then wrote another piece suggesting that I and other atheists were oblivious to the problem of wealth inequality. Having written a fair amount about wealth inequality, I contacted him again:

    October 26, 2013 11:06 PM

    So I’ve been oblivious to the problem of wealth inequality? Really?


    Oct 27, 2013, at 4:31 PM

    Hi Sam,

    If you read the piece again, you will see I was specifically referring to the atheist movement’s lack of attention given to wealth inequality. Moreover, I defined the atheist movement not as individuals, authors or thought leaders, but rather as the 2,000+ atheist groups/organizations.



    October 27, 2013 5:13 PM

    Oh, so you would expect readers of your piece to come away thinking that I’ve done my part on the problem of wealth inequality?


    Oct 27, 2013, at 5:30 PM

    Mate, the piece wasn’t about you. I didn’t say you hadn’t done your part on the problem of wealth inequality. I honored you for being one of the three luminaries whose books were the catalyst for launching the AM. My only other mention of you was in criticizing what I perceive to be your myopic view on the roots of terrorism.



    October 27, 2013 at 7:14:30 PM

    It’s remarkable that you think I’m being prickly and self-absorbed here. First, you retweet a libelous attack on me and brand me the Pat Robertson of atheism. When I confront you about this, you admit that you never took the time to read my original blog post. You then write an astonishingly self-serving piece in which you divulge the contents of my private email to you without my permission (do you really not know how uncool that is?) titled, “Atheist Authors Feud Over Islamic Extremism.” We’re feuding? I never heard of you until I read your tweet. And we’re not debating Islamic extremism—we’re talking about how callowly you’ve been sniping at me. (From what I can tell, you are completely deluded about Islamic extremism.) You then write another piece in which you again attack me by name, “honoring” me as one of the founders of the movement that has so scandalously ignored the problem of wealth inequality. When I show you that I’ve written three long articles on the topic, you dodge and put the onus on me: “Mate, the piece wasn’t about you.” Oh, I’m sorry. There goes my narcissism again.

    My only purpose in engaging you has been to try to get you to recognize how unprofessional your behavior has been. This is a lesson you don’t seem willing to learn.

    In any case, I’m done. Good luck. At this rate, you will need a lot of it.