Shared posts

19 Apr 23:27

Cloudy Snake Oil

by maciej@pinboard.in (Maciej Ceglowski)

I have nothing against Amazon S3, but I was astonished today to find this claim on their FAQ page:

Amazon S3 is designed to provide 99.999999999% durability of objects over a given year. This durability level corresponds to an average annual expected loss of 0.000000001% of objects. For example, if you store 10,000 objects with Amazon S3, you can on average expect to incur a loss of a single object once every 10,000,000 years. In addition, Amazon S3 is designed to sustain the concurrent loss of data in two facilities.

This is an impressive number, but it's utterly dishonest to make such claims. It implies that there is a less than one-in-one-hundred-billion chance that Amazon will abruptly go out of business, or that a rogue employee will cause massive data loss, or an unexpected bug will result in massive data loss, or a defect in storage media will cause millions of devices to fail silently, or a large solar flare will destroy equipment across three data centers, or that a comet impact will destory three data centers, or that a nuclear exchange will destroy three data centers.

I think these events are all incredibly unlikely, but none of them is one-in-a-hundred-billion unlikely. Yet here is Amazon not only making that argument, but implying that you can safely use S3, a service that launched in 2006, for another ten million years.

Rare events are rare! That's why promises past five or six nines of reliability are functionally meaningless. At that point the "unknown unknowns" must overwhelm any certainty you have about what you think your system is doing.

The risks you failed to model will become obvious in retrospect, and make for an entertaining post-mortem, but that won't get anybody's data back.

Promises like Amazon's should serve as a kind of anti-marketing, suggesting that the company has not thought seriously about the limits of risk assessment and planning.

I suggest the following rule of thumb: if you can't count the number of nines in the reliability claim at a glance, it's specious.

Of course this rant is available in book form, phrased better than I have here. But it's worth repeating at every opportunity.

20 Apr 00:47

How Many Calories can you Burn Cycling on an Electric Bike?

by Joe Goodwill

Can you burn a lot of calories while cycling on an electric bike?

I have often wondered about burning calories on an electric bike, because I sometimes use a regular bike and sometimes use an electric bike (I prefer the electric bike for very hilly routes and very long rides).

Ron Wensel with a Pedal Easy Electric Bike 2Well, I recently met a brilliant bike engineer – Ron Wensel, shown above with one of his bikes. Ron has proved that you can burn almost as many calories on an electric bike as on a regular bike.

Ron Wensel and his son Claudio make Pedal Easy electric bikes

Pedal Easy Lightweight Electric Bike 2Roy was an engineer for decades, and he has used his experience to develop a very competitively-priced (around $1,500) range of lightweight, long-range electric bikes. The lightweight bikes are integrated with a small, high-efficiency battery and motor.

These very efficient electric bikes don’t LOOK like electric bikes. As you can see, the small, light battery is cunningly concealed in a saddle bag. The motor in the rear hub is so small that most people would not notice it. And the bikes are nicely specced with mid-range Shimano components. The frames are built to be super strong but lightweight.

Total weight of Pedal Easy electric bikes, with battery and fenders, is as low as 28 pounds.

The electric assistance on these Pedal Easy bikes is controlled with a throttle. Because the bikes are so light, you can choose to use them as regular bikes (pedaling only) or on full throttle (no pedaling at all) – or somewhere in between.

Pedal Easy Electric Bike drivetrainRon decided to develop these bikes four years ago, after he had survived four heart attacks. He wanted to keep on cycling, but his doctor warned him not to let his heart rate go over 140. With these electric bikes and his heart rate monitor, Ron can still do group bike rides and even go on long-distance biking vacations with his wife: he just wears a heart rate monitor, pedals the bike like a regular bike – and then uses the throttle whenever his heart rate is close to his “danger zone” of 140 beats per minute.

Keeping your heart rate under control with an electric bike

Heart rate on an electric bikeRon took the electric bike on two one-hour rides over moderately hilly terrain. On the first ride he used throttle assist for the tougher parts. This first graph produced by his heart rate monitor shows the one-hour ride WITH throttle assist. As you can see, Ron was able to keep his heart rate under 140 (the red zone starts at 140).

Heart rate on a regular bikeA few days later Ron did the same bike ride on the same electric bike, but without throttle assist. As you can see, his heart rate went well above 140 – sometimes even as high as 170 beats per minute. Fortunately, he survived this test.

Testing calories burned on electric bikes

Ron’s heart rate monitor supplied some very interesting information about calories burned on the two bike rides. This graph shows both bike rides, with the number of calories burned on both rides. calories burned cyclingNotice that when Ron used the throttle assist to protect his heart, he burned up 444 calories during the one-hour bike ride. When he did the bike ride without throttle assist, he burned up 552 calories during the one-hour bike ride. This shows that using the electric bike resulted in burning only 20% less calories. Burning 440 calories in an hour is a big deal – done regularly, this kind of calorie burn could result in significant weight loss.

I find this exciting for two reasons:

  1. It shows that heart disease patients can use electric bikes to keep on cycling, while still following their doctor’s orders about keeping their heart rate fairly low.
  2. It shows that you can burn up a very large number of calories while riding an electric bike.

Thanks to Ron Wensel for the information in this post. Check out his electric bikes at Pedal Easy.   You can also read more about the health benefits of electric bikes in his paper presented to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Note: I am currently test riding one of these bikes, trying it out on my daily bike commutes (and I am very happy to know that I am still burning about 1,000 calories per day on my bike commute). My first impression of the bike was “Awesome Commuter Bike!” – but I will have more details when I publish my review of the Pedal Easy electric bike.

 

The post How Many Calories can you Burn Cycling on an Electric Bike? appeared first on Average Joe's Cycling Blog.

19 Apr 15:37

Heart bleed Highlights a Contradiction in the Web - NYTimes.com [IP Letter]

There's a lot of magical thinking iin expecting systems to work simply becuase they are supposed to.
20 Apr 01:12

Twitter Favorites: [marksiegal] The best $9.67 that I ever spent online was to sign up for @Pinboard.

Mark Siegal @marksiegal
The best $9.67 that I ever spent online was to sign up for @Pinboard.
20 Apr 05:45

In praise of unfairness

by Benedict Evans

Back when I started out as an equity analyst, in the days when mobile operators were sexy disruptive growth companies, my boss was very fond of comparing the number of customers per employee at fixed and mobile networks. People from fixed networks used to complain about this comparison, saying that it was unfair, because they needed lots of people to maintain the copper line network that a mobile network didn't need because it didn't have one.

And my boss would reply "yes, it's an unfair comparison, but it's a relevant one".

I was reminded of this recently when I posted this chart and was barraged with complaints that it was an unfair comparison:

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 7.41.05 pm.png

I also got quite a few complaints about these charts:

The complaint in both cases was that of course smartphone sales are bigger than PCs, but that's unfair - the phone market is just much bigger than the PC market (and the devices are replaced every ~2 years where PCs are replaced every ~5 years). Plus, it's unfair to compare PCs with mobile devices because some of the things you do on PCs are hard to do on mobile devices (at least for now). 

These objections were quite correct  - the comparison is unfair. But it's also relevant. Mobile is now around half of all time spent online in developed markets and will be the dominant global consumer computing platform of the next decade or two. And the sheer scale of the smartphone businesses is driving a reshaping of all the dynamics of the technology industry, while its supply chain is enabling all sorts of new segments that would never have been possible before - drones, wearables, VR, micro-satellites, internet-of-things devices and lots of other things besides.

Hence, another deeply unfair but deeply relevant chart: Microsoft's share of the sum of all personal computing devices: Windows PCs, Macs, iOS and Android devices and Windows Phones (I could arguably include games consoles in here - my inclination is not to, but it wouldn't change the chart noticeably).  

In case it isn't obvious by now, these charts are meant to be unfair - that's the point. Unfair but relevant comparisons are the most interesting and important kinds. An unfair comparison generally means an unfair advantage, and this isn't the Olympics - unfair is good. Customers don't care if a company's advantage is unfair. Investors don't care. Unfair advantages are often the best kind. They are something that flows structurally from the reason why your business is going to change everything - they flow from a technology change you are building on or a change in market dynamics or consumer behaviour that you're riding, and that your competitors cannot address. Disruption is unfair. Mobile's disruption of PCs and the PC internet is entirely unfair - it's the unfairness of differences like the replacement cycle and subsidy model (amongst many others) that makes it possible. 

So, here are some more unfair comparisons:

  • Apple and Android could enter the smartphone business with Unix-based platforms that leveraged modern hardware while Nokia, RIM and Palm were working with software platforms premised on the hardware constraints of the late 1990s and early 2000s. 
  • Apple can sell $600 phones for (what look like) low prices due to the operator subsidy system, while PCs have to be sold at full price. 
  • WhatsApp sends as many messages as the global SMS system (approximately) with only a few dozen engineers
  • Skype can provide free phone calls because it doesn't have to maintain a physical network
  • SAAS businesses can be much more efficient than packaged software businesses
  • Amazon has a bigger selection and lower costs than any store
  • Airbnb has a wider selection of places to stay than Hilton
  • Android is more fragmented than iOS
  • Android outsells iOS

One of the strands within this is the concept of getting something for nothing. Most obviously, WhatsApp and Skype use the infrastructure others built at great cost to offer voice or messaging for free. But really, that applies to any internet business. That's, well, unfair. 

20 Apr 08:55

It’s Indie Time

by Doc Searls

Aral Balkan is doing a bang-up job getting Indie rolling as an adjectival meme. He’s doing it with his Indie PhoneIndie Tech Manifesto and a talk titled Free is a Lie.

To put the Indie movement in context, it helps to realize that it’s been on the tech road at least since 1964, when Paul Baranone of the Internet’s architects, gave us this design for a network:

Meaning the one on the right. The one on the left was common in those days and the one in the middle was considered inevitable. But the one on the right was radical. First, it reduced to one the “attack surface” of the network. Take out one node or one link and the rest stayed up. Second, it also served as the handy design spec for the protocols that now define the Internet. Aral, the Indie Phone and the IndieManifesto are all about the one on the right: Distributed. So, for that matter, is The Cluetrain Manifesto. For example:

That was Chris Locke’s line. ”Markets are conversations” (one of my lines) and “Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy” (one of David Weinberger’s) also come from the same spot.

Marketing comes from A and B. Never C. Thus, as Jakob Nielsen told me after Cluetrain came out, “You guys defected from marketing. You sided with markets, against marketing.” Meaning we sided with individual human beings, as well as society in general. But certainly not with marketing — even though all three of us made a living in marketing. Perhaps not surprisingly, Cluetrain became, and remains, a favorite of marketers, many of which continue to defect. (Bonus link.)

Independent, sovereign, autonomous, personal and heterarchical are all adjectives for what one gets from a distributed network. (This may call forth an acronym, or at least an initialism.) By whatever name it is an essential camp, because each of us is all six of those things (including distributed). We need tech that enables those things and gives us full agency.

We won’t get them from the centralizers of the world. Or decentralizers that don’t go all the way from B to C. We need new stuff that comes from the truly personal side: from C. It helps that C — distributed — is also central to the mentality, ethos and methodologies of hacking (in the positive senses of the word).

Ever since the Net went viral in the mid-’90s, we’ve built out “solutions” mostly on the models of A and B: of centralized and decentralized. But too rarely all the way to C: the fully personal. This is understandable, given the flywheels of industry, which have the heft of Jupiter and have been spinning ever since Industry won the Industrial Revolution.

But one fully personal exception stands out: the browser. It was born to be the best instrument of individuality we could have, even though it has lately become more of a shopping cart than a car. (That was one point of Earth to Mozilla: Come back home.) If we want the browser to be fully personal (e.g. private) again — as it was in the first place, before commercial imperatives were laid upon it, and the Web looked like a library (which one would browse) rather than a shopping mall — Mozilla is our best hope for making that happen. There are no other candidates. And it’s clear to me that they do want to work toward that goal.

We won’t get rid of centralization and hierarchy. Nor should we, because there are many things centralization and hierarchy do best, and we need them to operate civilization. Our personal tools also need to engage with many of them. But we also can’t expect either centralization or decentralization to give us distributed solutions, any more than we can get government or business to give us individuality, or for hierarchy to give us heterarchy. The best we’ll get from them is respect: for us, and for the new tools we bring to the market’s table.

Aral is right when he tweets that Mozilla’s dependence on Google is an elephant in the room. It’s an obvious issue. But the distributed mentality and ethos is alive and well inside Mozilla — and, for that matter, Google. I suspect it even resides in some corner of Mark Zuckerberg’s cerebrum. (He’s too much of a hacker for it not to be there.) Dismissing Mozilla as a tool of Google throws out babies with bathwater — important and essential ones, I believe.

Meanwhile we need a name for the movement that’s happening here, and I think Aral’s right that “Indie” might be it. “Distributed” sounds like what happens at the end of a supply chain. “Heterarchical” is good, but has five syllables and sounds too academic. “Sovereign” is only three syllables (or two, depending) and is gaining some currency, but it more commonly applies to countries than to people. “Personal” is good, but maybe too common. And the Indie Web is already catching on in tech circles. And indie itself is already established as a nickname for “independent.”  So I like it.

I would also like to see the whole topic come up at VRM Day and IIW, which run from 5 to 8 May in Mountain View. The links for those:

http://VRMday2014a.eventbrite.com

http://iiworkshop.org (register at http://bit.ly/1hWpNn5)

20 Apr 13:33

Redefining “success” in academia

by Raul Pacheco-Vega

By some people’s standards I could consider myself a very successful academic. I have a job I love at a prestigious, internationally-recognized institution, I have a low teaching load, have successfully raised extramural grant money to execute projects, I have brilliant students, both undergraduate and graduate. I absolutely love my research and have fantastic collaborators worldwide and wonderful colleagues at my institution’s campuses.

Definitions of success in academia need to be as varied as the hypotheses we pose. To some, being in a tenure-track or tenured is success.

— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) April 17, 2014

Yet, I can’t help but remind myself that definitions of success vary. I’m not a fan of “publish-or-perish”, and sometimes I defy the old canon by refusing to engage in it. Yet other times, I just can’t stop myself from writing about a research topic because it really ignites a fire inside me and I’m passionate about it (ask me about my recent work on water privatization, for example, or my career-long scholarship on wastewater governance).

However, I should also admit that this time a decade ago, I was just happy to be alive, and I considered that a success. I had just broken up with my fiance, and my world was crumbling underneath my feet. The pressure of completing a PhD, plus my own personal goals shattered by the loss of the person I thought I was going to marry, were overwhelming. Yet I survived, thrived, completed my PhD, managed to publish a few things and now have a fantastic position, and a research trajectory that fascinates me.

Success in sight....

Photo credit: SimplyCVR on Flickr

In the current environment of higher education, with funding cuts, loss of tenure-track positions, increasing pressure on graduates to find jobs, and grave mental health problems in academia, we cant’ afford to measure success the same way for everyone. For many academics who face disability challenges, just reading one page or writing 100 words per day should be considered a success. Heck, being alive is success.

To others, success would be measured by surviving the PhD defense and just having the degree. And for others, just being alive is a success.

— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) April 17, 2014

So let's stop equating success in academia to how many papers we publish, how many books we have out, and find OUR own definition of success

— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) April 17, 2014

For many academics, success should include being able to balance their personal life with their professional one. Or having time to spend with their children. OR having time for themselves. Success is such a personal component of life that I find associating it with the professional side ends up hurting us more than helping us. For me, because I was so ill at ISA 2014, success meant having the physical energy to participate in my own panel and comment another one.

Anybody who thinks academic success is not a function of scholars' emotional states is deluded. We are HUMANS who do research, not robots.

— Dr Raul Pacheco-Vega (@raulpacheco) May 17, 2013

Let’s redefine success in academia not only based on books, book articles, chapters, but on what is really relevant to us. My research is policy-relevant. I’m doing what I love and getting paid for it. And I am spending time with my parents, my friends and my loved ones.

To me, that’s success.

20 Apr 18:23

"For if we say that we lack authority to give credence to our testimony, we speak beside the point...."

“For if we say that we lack authority to give credence to our testimony, we speak beside the point. For in my opinion, from the most ordinary, familiar and commonplace things, if we see them properly, we could construct the greatest miracles in nature and the most wonderful examples, especially on the subject of human actions.”

- Michel de Montaigne on experience, anticipating working out loud and design innovation (via simonterry)
20 Apr 18:28

Bare-bones Heroku do

Every time I want to start up a new Heroku app, I go through the same process, and I thought rather than figure it out every time, I'd just document it here once, and look it up.

Note: This is more general than my Heroku How To, which shows you how to set up a Fargo Publisher app. This is for any app.

  1. Come up with a name. Write it down. I'm using bingBing33 for this howto.

  2. Create a folder to hold the app. Say it's /myworld/bingBing33/

  3. Save your JavaScript file in there, say it's main.js.

  4. Create a package.json file in the folder. Follow the pattern in this file.

In Terminal, enter these commands:

cd /myworld/bingBing33

git init

git add package.json main.js

git commit -m "Initial source code"

heroku create bingBing33

git push heroku master

Your app should be running. If not, type heroku logs at the command prompt to see what happened.

To set an environment variable:

heroku config:set myvariable=somevalue --app bingBing33  

When you make a change:

git commit -a -m "Update"

git push heroku master
20 Apr 20:15

Water monitoring in China, and the changing role of citizenship

by Ethan

This January, a few hundred employees of Alibaba, the massive online retailer and digital payments company, participated in an interesting experiment. Like many Chinese, they traveled home to celebrate the Lunar New Year. While at home, they used inexpensive water testing kits to sample water in their villages and uploaded their findings via smartphone to an environmental mapping website, Danger Maps. Employees measured water quality in 420 locations across 28 provinces, testing open bodies of water as well as sources of drinking water.

The experiment was a trial run for a much more ambitious rollout, announced this week. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s billionaire founder, announced that water testing kits would be sold through Taobao for between 65-80 yuan ($10-13) and invited the public to join his employees in becoming water quality monitors. Yang Fangyi, one of the managers of the Alibaba Foundation, explained that by mapping areas of poor water quality, the Foundation can work with local environmental authorities and NGOs to work on cleanup plans.

watermap
Test results posted to water.epmap.org

Environmental degradation is one of the most serious problems facing China. A report from the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning suggests that China lost 3.5% of the nation’s GDP in environmental damages in 2010. Air pollution contributed to 1.2 million deaths in 2010, and journalists have compared Beijing’s air quality (unfavorably) to that in airport smoking lounges and industrial London on the most polluted days of the mid-20th century. Maintaining and improving air and water quality while continuing to rapidly industrialize are huge challenges for the country. Environmental issues are also an area where the Chinese government has been comparatively open about discussing problems and seeking international cooperation; Premier Li Keqiang addressed environmental problems in his address to the National People’s Congress last month, and US organizations that work with China report that it’s far easier to cooperate on environmental issues than on more sensitive issues like human rights or worker safety.

textkitpackaging

testkitcontents
The kit, and its contents

The little blue kit, manufactured by Greenovation Hub, may test China’s openness around environmental advocacy. Inside are tests for ph, Phosphates, Ammonia, Chemical Oxygen Demand (used to indirectly measure organic contaminants in water), and for five heavy metals, including cadmium and zinc. It’s more home chemistry lab than slick, sophisticated sensors – you’ll be dipping litmus paper into a stream and measuring the color that results, then entering the data into your phone if you participate in the project.

It’s unclear how many of Alibaba’s 500 million customers will purchase water quality kits and start uploading data to Danger Maps. Even if only a few participate, the implications could be very interesting. Land use issues are a major civic flashpoint in China. If farmers are able to document damage to the local watershed from a new factory, for instance, it might change the dialog, bringing nascent environmental watchdog organizations and government departments into the debate over land use.

Groups like Public Lab in the US and Safecast in Japan have been using crowdsourcing models to document environmental issues, monitoring water quality and radiation levels. Their work raises questions of whether we want citizens to be cooperative sensors, or citizen scientists. The latter is a high bar to cross – we need citizens not only to collect data but to formulate and test hypotheses. What we gain in exposing participants to the scientific process, we may lose in terms of data quality and believability. Safecast has traded accessibility for accuracy – their bGeigie geiger counter is pretty expensive in kit form, but is a lab-quality instrument, which allows Safecast to use the data collected to engage the Japanese government in dialog about post-Fukushima reconstruction. On the other hand, using a Safecast counter, it’s easy to feel like your job is simply that of a data collector, not someone figuring out the complex puzzle of when towns and villages will be safe to inhabit. (Safecast describes itself as a global sensor network, acknowledging that it’s strength is data collection, not the broader issue of citizen science.)

There’s a balance between accessible sensors, high-quality data and the ability for users to formulate and test hypotheses that crowdsensing projects need to wrestle with going forward – based on some of the results thus far, it seems like the Greenovation kit favors access over accuracy. (I suspect there’s not really that much standing water in China at ph10, despite reports on the map.) But it’s possible that communities affected by industrial pollution might purchase multiple sensors, organize testing plans and oversampling to improve accuracy. They might also look for sources of industrial runoff and test hypotheses about how industrial development is affecting their community. Consider a project from CMU called CATTFish. It’s a water monitor that sits in your toilet tank and measures temperature and conductivity to sense possible changes in groundwater quality. It’s designed for communities concerned about pollution from hydrofracking – with high quality, regularly updated data from multiple homes, a community could have an early warning system for detecting potential ill-effects from oil extraction. (h/t to Heather Craig, who introduced me to the project.)

I think there’s another subtle change we should watch for as well. Environmental crowdsensing is a form of monitorial citizenship, an idea we’ve been discussing a lot lately at Center for Civic Media. John Keane uses the term to describe the non-governmental and civic organizations that act as watchdogs, keeping governments honest and, sometimes, in check. Inspired in part by David Ronfeldt’s work on tribes, institutions, markets and networks, we’ve been looking at ways networked individuals can have similar monitorial power. The work we’re starting with Promise Tracker begins with asking citizens to monitor issues in their communities using mobile phones and will likely expand to asking citizens to use sensors to monitor water and air quality.

In our experiments with Promise Tracker in São Paulo and Belo Horizonte, using mobile phones to document community problems and governmental and community responses to them, we quickly learned that many people don’t just want to collect data – they want to use data to tell stories and to advocate for change. Will citizens become sensors or scientists? Participants or activists? This may also have a lot to do with whether Greenovation Hub wants to build a business model or a movement, and whether a powerful, visible figure like Jack Ma is willing to have Alibaba become the nexus of an emerging environmental movement. That might be more potent and less dangerous than having individual groups organize to address water quality issues on a small scale and face potential backlash from local authorities.

I’m interested in monitorial citizenship because I see monitoring powerful institutions – commercial, governmental and otherwise – as something one can do every day as a citizen. Elections come around every few years and get all the attention, but it’s possible that the real power of citizenship comes from the monitoring that takes place between the elections. In a Chinese context, where power doesn’t come through electoral mechanisms, monitorial citizenship may have even more power – it may be a more genuine, authentic, believable path to political power than others available to most Chinese citizens.

20 Apr 20:35

Protected Bike Lanes Benefits

by Joe Goodwill

Protected bike lanes are sometimes controversial. I don’t understand why. Protected bike lanes have so many obvious benefits. And the places which have the best cycling infrastructure are safer for all, and have the most polite cyclists (Copenhagen is a good example).

The benefits of protected bike lanes include:

  • 89% fewer injuries to cyclists
  • Safer for motorists and pedestrians too
  • Good for business – for example, 9th Avenue in New York City had a 49% increase in business after protected bike lanes were installed. In Toronto, pedestrians and cyclists spent the most money.
  • More people would cycle if there were more protected bike lanes – which would be good for traffic levels, road wear-and-tear, pollution, and public health.

Transitized produced the poster below, which summarizes all the benefits of protected bike lanes. Transitized encourages people to share and publicize it. Go to their web site for a downloadable PDF to save and share.

Benefits of Protected Bike Lanes

 

 

 

 

The post Protected Bike Lanes Benefits appeared first on Average Joe's Cycling Blog.

20 Apr 04:59

"The sensor feels more like a marketing gimmick than a legitimate feature."

"The sensor feels more like a marketing gimmick than a legitimate feature.":

Farhad Manjoo:

Samsung’s problems, meanwhile, will be more difficult to address, as you can tell by spending some time with the S5. One of its major new features is a fingerprint-sensor meant to let you unlock your phone without typing a passcode, a feature Apple introduced on the iPhone 5S last year. I don’t fault Samsung for copying Apple’s fingerprint idea, just as I won’t fault Apple for copying Samsung when it makes a bigger phone. Fingerprint unlocking is a good idea, and more phones should have it.

But I do fault Samsung for the slipshod manner in which it introduced fingerprint scanning. I’ve been using the iPhone’s fingerprint sensor for the last six months, and it has worked about nine times out of 10 for me. The Galaxy S5’s finger sensor is unusable. It has failed to recognize my finger just about every time I have tried it. It has been so terrible that the sensor feels more like a marketing gimmick than a legitimate feature. 

I’ll just reiterate: I understand why Samsung felt like they needed to include this feature in their new phone. But why on Earth would they let such an inferior product actually ship? In what way does it benefit them to have something so broken on the market? in fact, it must hurt them. Right?

20 Apr 18:27

Why might Nike be hesitant to declare the end of the FuelBand?...



Why might Nike be hesitant to declare the end of the FuelBand? Here are $ome rea$on$.

20 Apr 17:51

Shutting down my (now redundant) comm-central clone on github

by Jonathan Protzenko

This is just a public service announcement: I'm shutting down the comm-central repository on github I've been maintaining since 2011. Please use the official version: they share the same hashes so it's just a matter of modifying the url in your .git/config. Plus, the official repo has all the cool tags baked in.

(Turns out that due to yet-another hg repository corruption, the repo has been broken since early March. Since no one complained, I suspect no one's really using this anymore. I'm pretty sure the folks at Mozilla are much better at avoiding hg repository corruptions than I am, so here's the end of it!).

20 Apr 23:47

Twitter Favorites: [luxlotus] Must-read, beautifully written, elegiac article about the new reach of civil surveillance into our lives, by @qhardy: http://t.co/1qQpLxd8H3

Lauren Cerand @luxlotus
Must-read, beautifully written, elegiac article about the new reach of civil surveillance into our lives, by @qhardy: mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/bits/201…
20 Apr 23:58

Twitter Favorites: [jesse_hamm] @portablecity A good hook is usually one or two things the reader is already familiar with, plus one thing unique to your book.

Jesse Hamm @jesse_hamm
@portablecity A good hook is usually one or two things the reader is already familiar with, plus one thing unique to your book.
20 Apr 23:59

Twitter Favorites: [oliawgyllis] Looking forward to telling people about my self-guided walking tour around Granville SkyTrain Station.

sillygwailo_ebooks @oliawgyllis
Looking forward to telling people about my self-guided walking tour around Granville SkyTrain Station.
21 Apr 03:45

Unread 1.2 Adds Image Viewer, New Gestures, And More

by Federico Viticci

Originally released in February, Jared Sinclair's Unread is an elegant and polished RSS reader for iPhone that made me switch from Reeder. As I concluded in my review:

For me, Unread provides a better reading, syncing, and sharing experience than Reeder. While it lacks some of the features that Reeder gained over the years, Unread’s debut shows an app with focus, flexibility, attention to iOS 7, and the capability of scaling from dozens of unread items to several hundreds articles. Some people will complain about the lack of a compact mode to disable article previews in the main list; combined with thumbnails, I realized that this feature helps me pay more attention to articles in my RSS feeds.

Available today on the App Store, Unread 1.2 adds a variety of fixes, design tweaks, and new features that make the app more powerful and faster to navigate without compromising its vision and the choices Sinclair made for version 1.0.

Notably, Unread has gained support for more RSS services and various new options in the Settings. Unread now works with NewsBlur and Fever; for the latter, only Kindling subscriptions will be displayed, which can't show Hot Links or other Fever-specific functionalities (I haven't been able to test integration with these services). For new options, Sinclair has added support for a separate font sizes in the article list and a new Extra Small size; the app can now show an unread badge on the icon, and landscape mode is supported in the built-in web browser.

In terms of navigation, Unread 1.2 addresses a common complaint of version 1.0 – that the app was slower than Reeder or other clients because it couldn't mark items as read by scrolling past them, or because it couldn't move across articles or mark them all as read with a pull gesture. Today's update introduces an option to mark articles as read by scrolling (an option that I didn't activate) as well as a “tug” gesture that is used to switch between articles and mark a list as read.

The tug gesture has been thoughtfully implemented and it mimics the behavior of Unread's existing pull-to-refresh and share animations: a three-line indicator is revealed as you pull, slowly gaining color (from light gray to red) to indicate when you can release the gesture to activate the shortcut.

I wasn't personally missing the ability to navigate articles with a gesture in Unread 1.0, but now that I've grown accustomed to it, I believe it makes a lot of sense within Unread's set of gestures and visual cues. It's elegant, quick to trigger, and consistent with the app – I don't use it much, but I like it.

A welcome addition to Unread is a native image viewer that comes packed with options to display image information and share images to other apps and services. Inspired by Tapbots' image viewer in Tweetbot 3 for iPhone, you can tap on any image in the article view to make it come forward, dimming the article text underneath. In this mode, you can pinch to zoom in and pan, and you flick the image off the screen when you're done or tap it again to dismiss it. The flick gesture works like Tweetbot: there's a palpable amount of gravity applied to the image on the screen, which is incredibly satisying to play with.

You can also tap & hold images (either in the article body or while in preview mode) to open a dedicated sharing menu with options to view Alt Text (useful for xkcd subscribers), save an image, copy its URL, and share it; the sharing menu includes services already supported by Unread, with an extra “Copy Image” button. If you're reading an article in the Unread browser, you can tap & hold images to bring up the same contextual menu in there, too.

With 1.2, Sinclair has refined and improved Unread through tweaks and features that are consistent with the app's design language and gesture interactions. In its first version, Unread didn't include some of the features that are now expected by RSS power users on the iPhone, and while today's update adds new options and menus to the app, it does so without complicating the experience.

Unread remains a calm reading environment that syncs with a variety of RSS services and hides plenty of sharing actions and settings under the hood. It's my favorite RSS client for iPhone, and I can't wait for an iPad version.

Unread 1.2 is available on the App Store.

18 Apr 04:00

April 18, 2014


Slightly worried someone beat me to this joke. Wish me luck.
21 Apr 11:00

Don’t Say Seminal, It’s Sexist

by jennydavis

Consider this a PSA for the #TtW14 participants, for whom I have so much respect and admiration. Please, you smart and wonderful people, refrain from using “seminal” as a metaphor for foundational ideas.

 

Seminal

 

Yes, “seminal” refers simultaneously to groundbreaking intellectual work and male bodily fluids expelled at the peak of sexual excitement.  First, the metaphor doesn’t even entirely make sense. although the work, like the fluid, is a seed, to earn the seminal descriptor, a work has to have grown into something rich and complex.  It cannot, as semen is wont to do, shoot into an unreceptive environment where it is wiped away, left to quickly die, and ultimately forgotten. Moreover, the metaphor is downright vulgar.  It evokes (at least for me) the image of some dude splooging his ideas all over everything. Finally, and most importantly, the metaphor is blatantly sexist.

To refer to something as “seminal” is equivalent to the compulsory use of the masculine pronoun “he” when one really means “person.” The compulsory “he” has long fallen out of favor (though what “he” should be replaced with is a debate in itself, but I digress), and yet “seminal” persists as an integral part of speech and writing.  I’ve heard some very strident feminists refer to Judith Butler’s work as “seminal.” I mean, really!? Judith Butler!?

If we take seriously the idea that scholarship and social justice are interwoven projects, it is important that we always reflect—self critically—upon how we communicate scholarly ideas. If and when we do so in ways that perpetuate inequalities or marginalization, we should recognize and alter our linguistic choices.  In this spirit, I searched my own dropbox (which goes back several years, and contains most of the things I’ve written as a professional sociologist) for the word “seminal.” The search came back with a count of 99. That’s right, I have 99 seminals and most of them are mine[i].   Luckily, a few years ago a respected colleague pointed me in the right direction regarding my (apparent over) use of the term.

I bring this up not to call anyone out or make them feel bad. I bring it up to help us, as a conscientious community, speak and write more conscientiously. I am posting it before the #TtW14 conference in hopes of minimizing uncritical semen references as we move through the weekend. Of course, I realize that not everyone reads the blog regularly, and even those who do may miss this particular post. So if someone leaks some semen into their talk[ii] please be gracious.  Presenting in front of a group of people is generally terrifying, and I certainly don’t want to be responsible for detracting from the exchange of ideas. But, if you do read this, please don’t say seminal. If you hear someone else say it, ask them more about their project, compliment their work, and, if it feels right, gently question their use of the term.

For those of you who now have to rewrite a portion of your paper, here are some alternatives:

Formative

Foundational

Groundbreaking

Path blazing

Influential

Canonical

Ovulary (?)

 

 

[i] To be fair, not all of them are mine. Some of the documents in my dropbox were written by others, including ahem, people who submitted abstracts to #TtW14. But still, 99 is a lot of seminal.

 [ii] I’m sorry for that terrible but entirely intentional pun.

Follow Jenny on Twitter: @Jenny_L_Davis

21 Apr 13:33

Banana Pi: A $57 Raspberry Pi clone

by Rui Carmo
Click on the image to zoom in

Interesting, but doesn’t hold a candle to the ODROID.


19 Apr 19:12

Today’s tabs

by Doc Searls

Market intelligence that flows both ways. It’s about the real Internet of Things. Not the Compuserve+Prodigy+AOL variety in development today. Unless we build on open source and standards, the IoT won’t be near as big as Business Insider says it will be.

What I’ll be doing this coming Wednesday.

Marketing in the age of VRM and customer engagement.

Liking “your favorite brand” might mean you can’t sue them.

Nice props from Darren Herman of Mozilla for VRM and The Intention Economy.

Many friends and colleagues made the latest Knight News Challenge cut.

A Dutch guy’s soul sells for 350 euros.

Surveillance marketing pays.

Which passwords to change for Heartbleed. Bonus link.

How the cloud should work.

Crypticide I: Thirteen Years of Crack. “Because I want that password algorithm — the traditional, 8-character Unix password-hashing algorithm —  ”dead.”

Defending Bitcoin.

U.S. No longer a democracy. From a Princeton and Northwestern study. Mostly reported, for brand-name reasons I suppose, as a “Princeton study.”

The Open Data 500.

Birth and death of Javascript.

Past, present and future of music streaming.

The problem of attention.

Problems with bid data ethics.

How goods flow in Europe.

We live in an oligarchy now.

What happens to the ebook market inside Amazon’s monopoly.

Designing conversations with algorithms. From the NYTimes Lab blog. Creeps me a little, but I like stuff like this: “The second principle here is agency, meaning that a system’s design should empower users to not only accomplish tasks, but should also convey a sense that they are in control of their participation with a system at any moment. And I want to be clear that agency is different from absolute and granular control.”

One of the best weeks for New Yorker cartoons.

19 Apr 20:02

Geos print

by Emily Chang

A series of elegant and simple geometric studies

via geos Digital Print BW 11 x 17 by onomatopoeic on Etsy.

18 Apr 20:23

Bike the Blossoms in Vancouver, 26 April

by Joe Goodwill

The annual Bike the Blossoms Ride in Vancouver is just around the corner!

It is presented this year by Velopalooza and the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.

The Bike the Blossoms Ride offers the opportunity to cycle along a well-marked route, enjoying the new cherry blossoms, in the company of many other relaxed and happy cyclists. It starts from 11 a.m., with the departure point at China Creek South Park, which is at the corner of East Broadway and Clarke Drive.

Note that Bike the Blossoms is not a bike race. You can start when you want and stop when you want. Participation is free. When we do it we love to stop along the way for lunch and coffee.
Bike the Blossoms Ride in Vancouver - Average Joe Cyclist

Bear in mind that the date is subject to change by Nature – so keep an eye on Velapalooza’s web site.

Also, VanCycle Mobile Bike Shop will be there to help with any bike problems. All kinds of people and bikes show up for the ride – below are two of them.

Bike the Blossoms Ride in Vancouver - Average Joe Cyclist

Bike the Blossoms Ride in Vancouver - Average Joe CyclistAnd all kinds of interesting people stop for coffee along the way – here are three women who did the ride in fancy dress. We met them at a Terra Breads coffee shop.

Hope to see you there on Saturday!

The post Bike the Blossoms in Vancouver, 26 April appeared first on Average Joe's Cycling Blog.

18 Apr 19:05

The episode in which I cause the sky to fall on journalism as we know it

by yelvington

I was part of a panel discussion of metrics and analytics in the newsroom a couple of weeks ago at the Journalism Interactive conference at the University of Maryland. I approached the subject with some trepidation. Some journalists are resistant to the very idea of measurement, often downright innumerate, and sometimes hostile to any idea that doesn't lead us all back into the honey and clover of the 1980s, before the Internet came along and turned it all into snakes and bees.

But I was heartened to find that the room was full of people who were clearly very interested in the subject and asking very good questions.

The panel was covered by the American Journalism Review, which produced a main story about the panel discussion and a short sidebar noting that we are awarding small spiffs to reporters whose bylined stories contribute to traffic growth goals.

Without getting bogged down in detail: Each reporter has a stretch goal equivalent to a 5% monthly traffic increase. The goals are individual -- each beat is different. The program, which also is in place at the Amarillo Globe-News and probably some other Morris Publishing Group sites, is intended to reward staffers for paying attention to the metrics and learning how to increase reader engagement. Storytelling techniques, SEO, social media engagement and choice of subject all play into generating results, but it should be noted that each reporter still has an assigned beat. This isn't a case where people are being encouraged to write about Honey Boo-Boo and Paula Deen -- except, of course when they are here and do something newsworthy. And "here" being Savannah, there are ample opportunities.

As I told the group, the program has been helpful in leading our staff to execute better on our goals of continuous news coverage and social engagement.

But it didn't take long until the knees jerked:

Don't know Steve @Yelvington but as former SMNer who cares about this paper, I feel he's crossing an ethical line: http://t.co/jre3uWKPSn

— Sean Harder (@SeanHarder) April 12, 2014

and ...

Not sure dangling $100 in front of ravaged newsroom, emphasizing viral appeal over real news is way to go @yelvington http://t.co/jre3uWKPSn

— Sean Harder (@SeanHarder) April 12, 2014

and ...

And I'm sorry, but when small town journalism goes the way of Gawker and click-bait, our society is doomed http://t.co/jre3uWKPSn

— Sean Harder (@SeanHarder) April 12, 2014

... and so on, for a total of nine tweets over two days.

Let me be clear: This is bullshit.

None of it comes as a surprise; in my 20+ years of trying to get print-oriented people to play the digital game, I've been accused of being unethical for giving away content for free, charging for content, holding stories to coordinate with print, running stories online before print subscribers could read them first, allowing people to comment under pseudonyms, not allowing people to comment under pseudonyms, "censoring" racists and trolls, running news photos that the "family newspaper" found objectionable, running photos without full captions and IDs of everyone pictured ... it goes on and on. We do face legitimate ethical challenges in this business, but all too often I see journalists using a claim of "ethics" as a lazy defense against change that they see as somehow threatening.

But here is what I actually told the audience in College Park:

  • Metrics matter because this is a business, and you can't manage what you can't measure.
  • The very act of counting creates a scoreboard. All scoreboards are incentive systems. It is in our nature to be competitive.
  • We have to be very careful about how we talk about our numbers. Context matters. Numbers without context can be dangerous. A scoreboard that leads people to behave in ways counter to your strategic objectives will damage you.

Journalism requires an audience. So does the business that supports journalism. We can not put journalism on a sustainable path by ignoring the signals that tell us how well we are doing with our audiences. Pageviews are an imperfect measure, but they are an easily understandable metric and one that from a business perspective maps directly to the generation of advertising inventory.

We have to grow our online audience engagement. It is not optional. It is not unethical to measure our success, and it is not unethical to reward people who learn to better contribute to that success. I really don't think there is much danger of savannahnow.com turning into Gawker or Jan Skutch turning into Nick Denton. Not that there's anything wrong with any of that -- we're just playing different roles. We all know who we are and what we're trying to do, and a night on the town as a reward for hitting a growth goal isn't going to change that.

19 Apr 00:27

Mossbrook Fire: 10 Days After Update

by bbum
Car Windshield After Fire

Lots of people are asking about various events related to the fire. This is a summary of the first 10 days of our adventure broken down as a series of short comments. A bit of a ramble in no particular order, I suspect, but here it is.

I chose the photo at left as a reminder of all the things we didn’t lose — no humans were hurt and all of the pets except one parakeet made it through unscathed — and that even such a destructive force as a fire can yield surprising beauty.


In the days that followed the event, the San Jose Fire Department sent crews around fairly often. Not just to ensure no hot spots remained, but also to use the event as a means of learning to fight such firees more effectively in the future. It was very interesting to be a part of the conversations as to how they’ll modify strategy in the future and what worked for this event. I’ll continue to collect photo streams and other information on the Photo Dump post (in fact, there will be a new stream on that post shortly after this is posted).

It was kind of funny how apologetic the fire fighters were about the destruction they caused in the house (which was quite minor compared to the destruction caused by the actual fire). I finally stopped the two that were walking me through after the fire, pointed out my kitchen window at the utter devastation of the house next door, and told them that saving my house was repayment 100 times over vs. any damage they may have caused.


Now that the laundry room — the inside portion of the house most severely impacted — has been cleared, it has become very clear just how close we were to losing most or all of the house. The roof is beyond charred. Take a log from your fireplace after a roaring fire? Yeah, that’s our laundry room ceiling.

While the wall burned through on the outside, it didn’t burn through the drywall. If we had the original thin wooden wall paneling in that room, it would be a very different picture. Drywall makes a good fire break.

Everything in the laundry room is a total loss save for any metal or ceramic pieces. The washer, dryer, and utility sink all partially melted.

The sliding door is gone, and the frame melted through. There is a pool of aluminum on the floor.

Water got into some of the slate floor tiles and caused them to explode as the water boiled. Not enough to need to replace the tiles, though.

We had California Closets based shelving/storage in the laundry room. It was OK, but sub-optimal. We are going to pay the difference between replacing that and fixing it properly and use this as an opportunity to fix it the way we want it. This also means we can fix the dryer vent and all the plumbing, both of which are… stupid.


Our foam roof likely also contributed to the preservation of the house. The straight tar/gravel original roof melts in a fire and drips, basically, raw fuel onto the fire below. While the covering on the foam is pretty toasty, and entirely gone in some spots, the closed cell foam underneath is fine. In fact, our roof should still be watertight. Apparently, that’ll be tested next week as there is rain in the forecast.

While the foam is intact, it won’t be for long. Because the cantilevered eaves are completely toasted, they have to be replaced. That means replacing at least 3x the length of the overhang on the other side to support the cantilever.

But they can’t simply be cut back to the first beam because that creates a hinge effect that weakens the structural integrity of the roof.

Thus, they roof decking will have to be cut back to the first, second, and possibly the peak on that slope of the house. Likely, it’ll be a mix of cut backs to try and preserve some of the wood.

Bottom line: The foam roof on that slope of our roof is coming entirely off.


Electrical Panel & Laundry Wall

The electrical infrastructure on the house is completely toasted. More likely than not, there will have to be channels cut through the foam on the roof all over the house to run new wiring pretty much everywhere needed.

Same goes for the water and gas, but that is much much simpler infrastructure than the spider web that is the electrical wiring throughout the house.

At least we’ll be able to fix our thermostat! And add an outlet here and there!


A temporary power pole has been installed in the back yard. But the City won’t grant a permit for hooking it up until some other bit of paperwork is completed. This is, apparently, a new requirement and our contractors are trying to figure out why.

We should have power on site in the next week. At the moment, we have extension cords running to two neighbor’s houses to power the various filters needed for the fish and to power the gigantic air filtration unit brought in by the cleaning company.

Yes, the neighbors will be able to bill us for power used and insurance will cover it. More importantly, by doing this we don’t have a generator in the neighborhood running 24/7.


The vultures and ambulance chasers have finally gone away. Within hours of the event and for days after, we had a stream of contractors and public insurance policy adjusters show up trying to convince us to hire them and sell us on the notion that our insurance company is The Enemy.

It was bad enough that I told two of them that stepping foot on my property would be considered trespassing as they were no longer welcome and they could take it up with the local police.

This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t be willing to use a policy adjuster, if it were really necessary. But, no, that isn’t happening unless there is some issue with the insurance company (so far, no signs at all that there will be). And I’m sure as hell not going to use one that showed up on my property after chasing down the news copters.



The insurance company (State Farm) has been, thus far, great to work with. Their general approach is to offer full solutions, never push any given provider, and allow us to hire whomever we want to do any particular bit of work.

So far, the recovery efforts involve the following providers:

    Jon R Crase Construction
    We were introduced to Crase on the evening of the fire. They are on the short list of companies that the fire department uses to secure a site once the flames are out. As well, Crase is used by State Farm to double-check whatever contractors one might hire. And, most importantly, they have Eichler experience. Representatives from Crase have been on site and have consistently gone well above and beyond any contractually expected services. And they have that Eichler experience.
    Servpro
    ServPro is doing a pack out cleaning & storage. That is, they are packing out everything in the house that was affected by smoke/fire, inventorying everything, cleaning anything that needs to be cleaned, and then storing it until the house is ready to be moved back into.

    For all intents and purposes, it is as if we are moving out and in to our own house.

    This includes everything in the garage. All those nuts, bolts, screws, nails, and hardware that Roger and I have been collecting over the years? Yeah. Packed. Inventoried. Cleaned. And eventually returned.

    Custom Craft Urethane
    Keith Nokes of Custom Craft, who did our roof after the last remodel, was on site with ladder up before we had even started to consider how to pursue reconstruction. He wanted to see what’s what and offer any information he could. He immediately volunteered that he would want to be present for any roof work regardless of who we hired (some insurance companies would insist on particular people to do certain tasks). Yeah… no… Keith / Custom Craft will be doing our roof. Period. End of story. There is no one else we would remotely consider.
    Horizon Energy Systems
    While the solar wasn’t damaged, it is going to have to come off the roof for the reconstruction as the roof under it will be mostly replaced. Horizon installed it in the first place and did great work (the linked post has some insight into the madness of an Eichler roof). Yes, there were some significant challenges to the original installation, but Horizon has since modified their installation procedures because of the mis-adventures on our roof. Out of pocket, we’ll be adding additional rails for mounting more panels (but will hold on adding panels until we have electricity again).

What’s next?

Unlike a remodel, half of the demolition was unplanned and performed by a the monster that is an uncontrolled fire.

Thus, none of the planning that would normally have taken place prior to applying the first SawzAll has occurred.

The immediate next steps — now that the clean up is largely done to the point that doesn’t require demolition — is to secure the various permits with the City of San Jose. To that end, the City sent out an inspector to assess damage, write a report and put it on file. With that in place, pulling the needed permits should be relatively straightforward. Should be.

We also need full design documents drawn up for the floor plan of the house. On these will go the schematics for any work to be done. Because the spiderweb that is the electrical is destroyed at the panel, it is likely that the work will reach all corners of the house.

Given that the roof will be torn up, the walls redone, the laundry room rebuilt, etc… we’ll likely also use this as an opportunity to fix a few things here and there.


18 Apr 01:42

Twitter Favorites: [lifewinning] So Sneakers is about the NSA contracting to a lean startup to perform domestic surveillance baaaaasically?

Ingrid Burrington @lifewinning
So Sneakers is about the NSA contracting to a lean startup to perform domestic surveillance baaaaasically?
18 Apr 04:33

Twitter Favorites: [mig14] PJ Stock hates stats because he can't do math or think critically.

Megan Fowler @mig14
PJ Stock hates stats because he can't do math or think critically.
19 Apr 04:29

Why ‘just’? That’s a way more awesome...



Why ‘just’? That’s a way more awesome superpower than most. I want that superpower.

19 Apr 04:46

The Quality of Space

by noreply@blogger.com (Melissa Bruntlett)
This weekend, after over a year and a half of waiting, the Velo Family has returned to one of our favourite Cascadian cities, Portland, Oregon. Making the trip down via rental car, thanks to some driving credit left over from our car trouble on our West Coast trip at Christmas, we got into Portland in the wee hours Friday morning. Excitement of course meant our children were up bright and early, despite Chris and I getting a mere six hours of sleep, so a slow paced day was in the cards for our first day in Portlandia.

We started and ended our day in the lovely square
A slow paced, easy day for us still meant lots of walking, doing the loop from our apartment near Pioneer Square, through to the Pearl District, down to the Waterfront and then back home. As night came, we sat down in Director Park, a lovely open square at SW 9th and Yamhill, to enjoy some hot chocolate and let our kids run around and burn off the last of their energy. Watching them laugh and play in such an inviting space made me recall that this is how we spent most of our day - sitting in public squares enjoying the scenery while our children ran around, chasing water in the fountains and just enjoying a well built public space.

Quality public spaces are something that I've come to really appreciate during our travels. It seems we always manage to find them, and they end up becoming a central part of our visits. It's actually something we miss in our own hometown of Vancouver, where green parks off the beaten path are common but a good public gathering place in the city centre is hard to find. 

Our kids messing around in Jamison Square just 
before lunch
The importance of a great gathering space cannot be undervalued. A central place, near cafes and restaurants and with tables and chairs provide people of all ages a place to sit outdoors and enjoy a a midday snack, meet up with friends, or, in our case, relax while doing a little sightseeing. They are also very welcoming for families, many times creating an environment where kids from all over the city and beyond join together in the freedom of play, and possibly even make a new friend. Of course, water features are always a welcome addition, meaning endless hours of fun for children, and a refreshing place to cool tired feet for the older "kids". Most importantly, though, is that these quality public spaces are free to anyone regardless of age, race, or economic means, which is what truly brings a city and it's people together.

Tomorrow we set off on more crazy adventures, likely of the two-wheeled variety, and I am certain that we will find even more spaces to relax as a family, if the weather cooperates. Our travels in the nearly eight years of being a family have taken us to some fantastic cities, all of whom seem to understand the value of building gathering places for their citizens and visitors. I am thankful to be afforded the opportunity to enjoy these open, welcoming spaces with my family, and for the fond memories created each and every time
A midday run at the Tom McCall Park along the riverfront
.