Shared posts

22 Oct 20:03

Data Visualization Made Easy

by SHansen

Tweet Sentiment Visualization Using Maltego

By Paul Richards, Developer at Paterva

Recently AlchemyAPI, one of the primary resources that Paterva uses to analyze sentiment, asked us to share how and why we use AlchemyAPI within our tool and why we are so excited about it. As the developer of these transforms (taking one piece of information to another with a small piece of code), I will briefly describe our use and how we got to where we are now.

For those unfamiliar with Maltego, it is a data visualization and mining tool that allows you to quickly and easily mine for data as well as see the correlation between different pieces of information to visually gain intelligence. In Maltego, pieces of information, known as ‘entities’, are used to mine for additional pieces of information that link to the original.

A practical example of how Maltego is used to find links between groups of information is below. Imagine you want to find a common link between three popular brands such as Nike, Puma and Adidas. You could start with Twitter Affiliation entities of each of these brands and run a transform that returns Twitter users that have tweeted about one of the brands. The resulting graph, shown below, makes it easy to identify Twitter users that have tweeted about one or more of these brands (the nodes located in between two or more clusters). As you can quickly tell from the graph, there is one user in the middle of the graph who tweeted to all three brands making them a possible person of interest.

Analysis of Twitter Activity on 3 Brands

This chart displays all Twitter users who have tweeted about the three brands.

Sentiment analysis is the use of natural language processing (NLP) to extract the attitude/opinion of a writer towards a specific topic. With the overwhelming amount of data being posted on the Internet every day with no way for a human to read it all, sentiment analysis is valuable for extracting and aggregating opinions from many sources on a specific topic.

There are many sentiment analysis APIs out there to choose from and it was difficult to decide which one would work best within Maltego. After much experimentation, I found that Alchemy’s sentiment analysis API was one of the most accurate out of all the APIs tested.

Combining Alchemy’s sentiment analysis API with Maltego’s visualization capabilities gives an analyst a powerful tool for graphically depicting opinions on specific topics. The transform that we built takes a Tweet as its input and returns either a positive, neutral or negative entity. In this way, a large amount of Tweets can be quickly and accurately categorized according to their sentiment. There is a wide range of potential uses for this transform ranging from brand reputation monitoring, market research, customer reactions to product launches and stock market monitoring to gauging opinions towards political parties, governments or countries.

Visualization of Positive and Negative Sentiment

This shows a visualization of positive and negative sentiment.

Maltego also allows you to build machines which automate the process of running multiple transforms – essentially allowing you to create a macro of tasks that are commonly run sequentially. This allows continuous monitoring of a topic by running a group of transforms at a set time interval and automatically updating your graph every time it runs. We built a new machine named Twitter Analyser to use with the new sentiment analysis transform. This machine takes a specific phrase in as its input and searches Twitter for Tweets with this phrase. From these Tweets, hashtags, links, sentiment and uncommon words are extracted as children of the originals. Maltego has multiple ways of visually representing the data. In this case, I used the ‘bubble view’, which sizes the entities according to the number of incoming tweets. This makes it much easier to see commonalities across Tweets.

Visualization of Twitter Analysis of a Phrase

The Maltego graph above shows an example of using Twitter Analyser on the phrase ‘YesScotland’.

This graph allows you to easily identify groups of Tweets with the same sentiment, common URLs, hashtags and interesting words. It automatically updates the graph every five minutes by getting new Tweets posted by users.

This is just one example of the many cases in which sentiment analysis is being used to monitor social networks. The vast amount of information being posted on the internet every hour makes sentiment analysis a vital tool to monitoring public opinions on specific topics.

As always, enjoy responsibly!

Read more about sentiment analysis in Sentiment Analysis with AlchemyAPI: A Hybrid Approach

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23 Oct 15:00

Telus Gardens

by ChangingCity

Telus Gardens resi Oct 2014

Telus Gardens is an office building which is replacing a city owned parkade on Georgia Street and the small White Spot retail building on Georgia, as well as a 46-storey residential tower on Robson Street where the Telus parkade was located. The tiny building between the tower and the office to the north is the Kingston Hotel, which won’t be touched in this proposal. The design, by Henriquez Partners for Westbank included a passive energy feature that has the appearance of wood, although it doesn’t seem to feature as prominently in the most recent version of the design (above).

Telus model Jan 2012Earlier details of some of the buildings were shown at a 2012 visit to the Urban Design Panel (who gave it unanimous support for the second time). The tower was initially targetted for LEED Gold status partly through a site wide geo-exchange utility – now the office tower (and maybe the residential as well) will be LEED Platinum.  This will capture the heat that is generated from the Telus Hub which has all the telephone lines in the province.  The amount of cooling to keep the Telus tele-communication systems from overheating is immense, so they will be taking that excess heat and storing it in the ground to be used for hot water heating in the residential tower.

The lane will be unusual in having retail frontages and may even see grass growing between pavers. Eventually plans call for the existing William Farrell Building to get an extra 3 floors, while the other Seymour building gets a new skin and canopies. The 22 storey office tower features cantilevered elements across the street. Initially one of was a skygarden – now it looks as if that might be true for both. There’s a public plaza and canopy on Georgia St. The office tower is rapidly approaching completion: the revised design for the residential podium (now with three floors of office over retail) has been completed, and the tower will appear soon.

23 Oct 16:09

Connecting on a human level through online customer support

by Larry Alton
Chances are, you’ve experienced the crushing frustration of going in automated phone tree circles, trying to the find the magic combination of buttons to press to speak with a customer service representative. Or perhaps you’ve struggled with faulty apps that disconnect while you try to live chat with a representative. It’s exactly this type of inconvenience... Read more »
23 Oct 14:00

MP4 improvements in Firefox for Android

One of the things that has always been a bit of a struggle in Firefox for Android is getting reliable video decoding for H264. For a couple of years, we've been shipping an implementation that went through great heroics in order to use libstagefright directly. While it does work fine in many cases, we consistently get reports of videos not playing, not displayed correctly, or just crashing.

In Android 4.1, Google added the MediaCodec class to the SDK. This provides a blessed interface to the underlying libstagefright API, so presumably it will be far more reliable. This summer, my intern Martin McDonough worked on adding a decoding backend in Firefox for Android that uses this class. I expected him to be able to get something that sort of worked by the end of the internship, but he totally shocked me by having video on the screen inside of two weeks. This included some time spent modifying our JNI bindings generator to work against the Android SDK. You can view Martin's intern presentation on Air Mozilla.

While the API for MediaCodec seems relatively straightforward, there are several details you need to get right or the whole thing falls apart. Martin constantly ran into problems where it would throw IllegalStateException for seemingly no valid reason. There was no error message or other explanation in the exception. This made development pretty frustrating, but he fought through it. It looks like Google has improved both the documentation and the error handling in the API as of Lollipop, so that's good to see.

As Martin wrapped up his internship he was working on handling the video frames as output by the decoder. Ideally you would get some kind of sane YUV variation, but this often is not the case. Qualcomm devices frequently output in their own proprietary format, OMX_QCOM_COLOR_FormatYUV420PackedSemiPlanar64x32Tile2m8ka. You'll notice this doesn't even appear in the list of possibilities according to MediaCodecInfo.CodecCapabilities. It does, however, appear in the OMX headers, along with a handful of other proprietary formats. Great, so Android has this mostly-nice class to decode video, but you can't do anything with the output? Yeah. Kinda. It turns out we actually have code to handle this format for B2G, because we run on QC hardware there, so this specific case had a possible solution. But maybe there is a better way?

I know from my work on supporting Flash on Android that we use a SurfaceTexture there to render video layers from the plugin. It worked really well most of the time. We can use that with MediaCodec too. With this output path we don't ever see the raw data; it goes straight into the Surface attached to the SurfaceTexture. You can then composite it with OpenGL and the crazy format conversions are done by the GPU. Pretty nice! I think handling all the different YUV conversions would've been a huge source of pain, so I was happy to eliminate that entire class of bugs. I imagine the GPU conversions are probably faster, too.

There is one problem with this. Sometimes we need to do something with the video other than composite it onto the screen with OpenGL. One common usage is to draw the video into a canvas (either 2D or WebGL). Now we have a problem, because the only way to get stuff out of the SurfaceTexture (and the attached Surface) is to draw it with OpenGL. Initially, my plan to handle this was to ask the compositor to draw this single SurfaceTexture separately into a temporary FBO, read it back, and give me those bits. It worked, but boy was it ugly. There has to be a better way, right? There is, but it's still not great. SurfaceTexture, as of Jelly Bean, allows you to attach and detach a GL context. Once attached, the updateTexImage() call updates whatever texture you attached. Detaching frees that texture, and makes the SurfaceTexture able to be attached to another texture (or GL context). My idea was to only attach the compositor to the SurfaceTexture while it was drawing it, and detach after. This would leave the SurfaceTexture able to be consumed by another GL context/texture. For doing the readback, we just attach to a context created specifically for this purpose on the main thread, blit the texture to a FBO, read the pixels, detach. Performance is not great, as glReadPixels() always seems to be slow on mobile GPUs, but it works. And it doesn't involve IPC to the compositor. I had to resort to a little hack to make some of this work well, though. Right now there is no way to create a SurfaceTexture in an initially detached state. You must always pass a texture in the constructor, so I pass 0 and then immediately call detachFromGLContext(). Pretty crappy, but it should be relatively safe. I filed an Android bug to request a no-arg constructor for SurfaceTexture more than two years ago, but nothing has happened. I'm not sure why Google even allows people to file stuff, honestly.

tl;dr: Video decoding should be much better in Firefox for Android as of today's Nightly if you are on Jelly Bean or higher. Please give it a try, especially if you've had problems in the past. Also, file bugs if you have issues!

23 Oct 22:23

On childcare in Ricochet

by Michal Rozworski

I forgot to post the piece I wrote on the NDP’s universal childcare proposal for Ricochet. Here it is belatedly. It was published last weekend and tries to situate the childcare proposal in the context of broader changes to the welfare state.

Why the NDP’s childcare proposal has irritated all the right people

The NDP’s universal childcare proposal has the right wing up in arms. Political opponents are playing up the spectre of big government. Their mouthpieces in the media are also predictably upset. The proposed program will be big spending, freedom limiting and unaffordable, they say. Social media too has lit up with the pundits out in force, trying to score gotcha points.

This reaction is wholly unsurprising, even when in reality the NDP’s proposal is modest.

The program is designed to be universal, but the provinces will decide how to deliver it. Parents who use it will pay up to $15 per day. It will be implemented gradually. Yet with the welfare state slowly withering away, even this relatively barebones social-democratic reform considered elemental in many Northern democracies is a big ask.

The right talks the language of equality

Much about universal childcare rankles the right wing, some of whom have recently taken up the torch of equality to defend us against the horrors of childminding for all.

Specifically, much has been made of the fact that in the first two years of Quebec’s $7-per-day childcare, use of the program went up according to income. Around half of all households with children in the top three-quarters of income distribution used the program, yet only a quarter of those in the bottom 25 per cent of income distribution did so. (There is no data, but certainly the very richest percentiles were less likely to use it; they can afford nannies or the best of private care centres.) In one sense, this equality talk shouldn’t cause surprise. The unequal distribution of the costs and benefits of programs such as universal childcare reflects on the grossly inegalitarian society in which we live. The lowest paid have the most precarious work, often part-time and at odd hours, while subsidized childcare is primarily 9 to 5.

As inequality ratchets upwards, the heyday of the welfare state falls farther into the past. Government expenditure as a percentage of GDP has recently fallen to record lows not seen since the 1940s, continuing a long downward trend started in the 1980s. Even the Quebec childcare program, while nominally universal, actually covers just 68 per cent of childcare needs outside the home.

In essence, the right wing is using the effects of neoliberalism to argue against any attempt to reverse long-term cutbacks to public services.

In fact, using equality as a defence against universal childcare ignores evidence that elsewhere it has worked to alleviate some long-term inequality. For example, a study of universal childcare in Norway produced a very interesting finding. The authors tracked two groups of people into adulthood, those born in municipalities that had childcare and those born in municipalities that didn’t. At first, the authors found that average salaries in cities with childcare were a bit lower. Looking more closely, however, they saw that working- and middle-class adults in cities with childcare were getting a sizeable earnings boost. The average effect was close to zero because those at the top experienced the opposite. In short, universal childcare worked to, as the authors write, “level the playing field.”

Missing the target

Overall, the experience of 20th-century welfare states shows that public services have a far greater chance of sustaining broad popular support if they are universal and funded enough to achieve high quality. Otherwise, as Petter Nilsson writes in relation to Sweden’s threatened welfare state, they become a “‘fall back alternative in a dull grey color’ and the system collapses.” A strong universal service today would necessitate a wide coalition of the middle and working classes, ready to tolerate some inequities to accomplish a broader, long-term political goal.

In the meantime, the right wants exactly the opposite. Targeted programs that seek to provide small-scale solutions to the most “deprived” are their measure of choice — ideally privately provided on the market. This is the liberal model that fills the gaps caused by a shrinking welfare state, rather than expands the welfare state to equalize society…

Read the rest here.

24 Oct 01:32

How recently has the website been updated?

by Jon Udell

Today’s hangout with Gardner Campbell and Howard Rheingold, part of the Connected Courses project, dovetailed nicely with a post I’ve been meaning to write. Our discussion topic was web literacy. One of the literacies that Howard has been promoting is critical consumption of information or, as he more effectively says, “crap detection.” His mini-course on the subject links to a page entitled The CRAP Test which offers this checklist:

    * Currency -

          o How recent is the information?

          o How recently has the website been updated?

          o Is it current enough for your topic?

    * Reliability -

          o What kind of information is included in the resource?

          o Is content of the resource primarily opinion?  Is is balanced?

          o Does the creator provide references or sources for data or quotations?

    * Authority -

          o Who is the creator or author?

          o What are the credentials?

          o Who is the published or sponsor?

          o Are they reputable?

          o What is the publisher’s interest (if any) in this information?

          o Are there advertisements on the website?

    * Purpose/Point of View -

          o Is this fact or opinion?

          o Is it biased?

          o Is the creator/author trying to sell you something?


The first criterion, Currency, seems more straightforward than the others. But it isn’t. Web servers often don’t know when the pages they serve were created or last edited. The pages themselves may carry that information, but not in any standard way that search engines can reliably use.

In an earlier web era there was a strong correspondence between files on your computer and pages served up on the web. In some cases that remains true. My home page, for example, is just a hand-edited HTML file. When you fetch the page into your browser, the server transmits the following information in HTTP headers that you don’t see:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:54:46 GMT
Server: Apache
Last-Modified: Wed, 06 Aug 2014 19:28:27 GMT

That page was served today but last edited on August 6th.

Nowadays, though, for many good reasons, most pages aren’t hand-edited HTML. Most are served up by systems that assemble pages dynamically from many parts. Such systems may or may not transmit a Last-Modified header. If they do they usually report when the page was assembled, which is about the same time you read it.

Search engines can, of course, know when new pages appear on the web. And there are ways to tap into that knowledge. But such methods are arcane and unreliable. We take it for granted that we can list files in folders on our computers by date. Reviewing web search results doesn’t work that way, so it’s arduous to apply the first criterion of C.R.A.P. detection. If you’re lucky the URL will encode a publication date, as is often true for blogs. In such cases you can gauge freshness without loading the page. Otherwise you’ll need to click the link and look around for cues. Some web publishing systems report when items were published and/or edited, many don’t.

Social media tend to mask this problem because they encourage us to operate in what Mike Caulfield calls StreamMode:

StreamMode is the approach to organizing your thoughts as a history, integrated primarily as a sequence of events. You know that you are in StreamMode if you never return to edit the things you are posting on the web.

He contrasts StreamMode with StateMode:

In StateMode we want a body of work at any given moment to be seen as an integrated whole, the best pass at our current thinking. It’s not a journal trail of how we got here, it’s a description of where we are now.

The ultimate expression of StateMode is the wiki.

But not only the wiki. Any website whose organizing principle is not reverse chronology is operating in StateMode. If you’re publishing that kind of site, how can you make its currency easier to evaluate? If you can choose your publishing system, prefer one that can form URLs with publication dates and embed last-edited timestamps in pages.

In theory, our publishing tools could capture timestamps for the creation and modification of pages. Our web servers could encode those timestamps in HTTP headers and/or in generated pages, using a standard format. Search engines could use those timestamps to reliably sort results. And we could all much more easily evaluate the currency of those results.

In practice that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Makers of publishing tools, servers, and search engines would have to agree on a standard approach and form a critical mass in support of it. Don’t hold your breath waiting.

Can we do better? We spoke today about the web’s openness to user innovation and cited the emergence of Twitter hashtags as an example. Hashtags weren’t baked into Twitter. Chris Messina proposed using them as a way to form ad-hoc groups, drawing (I think) on earlier experience with Internet Relay Chat. Now the scope of hashtags extends far beyond Twitter. The tag for Connected Courses, #ccourses, finds essays, images, and videos from all around the web. Nine keystrokes join you to a group exploration of a set of ideas. Eleven more, #2014-10-23, could locate you on that exploration’s timeline. Would it be worth the effort? Perhaps not. But if we really wanted the result, we could achieve it.

23 Oct 19:07

Thanks, Mozilla

by Rob Campbell

random access memoryThis’ll be my last post to

After 8 years and thousands of airmiles, I’ve decided to leave Mozilla. It’s been an incredible ride and I’ve met a lot of great people. I am incredibly grateful for the adventure.

Thanks for the memories.

24 Oct 08:07

Visual summary of skateboarding tournament

by Nathan Yau

Battle at the Berrics

George Murphy visualized the results of this year's skateboarding tournament Battle at the Berrics 7. Even if you don't like or know anything about skateboarding, this is a fun one to scroll through.

Skaters match up head-to-head in a bracket format, and compete in a style similar to the basketball game of H-O-R-S-E. One person does a trick, and if completed cleanly, the other person has to match. If the second person fails to match, he or she receives a letter. The first person to S-K-A-T-E loses.

Murphy takes you through the tournament with video clips and transitions through a handful of charts. You see how a match plays out and what individual skaters did. Fun.

Tags: skateboard, sports

24 Oct 11:14

Embracing Open: Digital Archivist Peter Brantley

by John A. Oswald
Image Credit: Peter Brentley

Embracing Open is a series that celebrates the voices that make the world more open. Join them by using #EmbraceOpen on Twitter and Facebook.

Peter Brantley is the Director of Digital Library Applications at the New York Public Library. In the past, he has served as the Director of Scholarly Communications at; the Director of the Bookserver Project at the Internet Archive; and the Executive Director of the Digital Library Federation. He is responsible for the popular Books in Browsers conference, and is also a contributing editor for Publishers Weekly. This is a man who knows open – and here are some of his thoughts.

Open means different things for different people. What does it mean to you?

Open has a wide range of meanings, including open access to information; open access to communications; the ability to re-use and re-mix; the ability to engage in uncensored conversations. Sometimes people need one instead of another; sometimes these definitions, and others, meld together in a patchwork. Open is an ideal, but in practice it is quite murky. Many elements of our interactions online with information, services, and other people are restricted in some fashion by law or regulation that protects economic prerogatives or state power.

Why is the pursuit of openness important?

Open access to information enables people to gain a measure of control and respect over their lives. Ultimately, I believe we need as many fully aware people as possible to preserve and protect a reasonably sustainable planet at the most basic biological level, and certainly to continue our work constructing societies that permit each of us to live to our potential, with equitable shares of global output in goods and services.

Tell us about your work at the NYPL. How does the digitization of such crucial public institutions increase the importance of net neutrality?

The New York Public Library seeks to expand access to its collections to everyone around the world, at any time, in any place, and help others to make connections to new ideas wherever they live. We have over 7.4 million unique web site visitors, and over 18 million visits every year to our branches. Our ability to serve our users worldwide relies on the presence of an internet where commercial content is not privileged over equitable access to open information.

Your Twitter bio says you are “interested in the forging of a network-aware global society.” Explain.

I believe that we are in the very early stages of learning how to build in a world that is ubiquitously networked. How we interact with the network, and with each other, at the same time that the network is engaging us directly through services and sensors we have incorporated into it is a challenge that is so vast that it is difficult to perceive clearly.

What’s at stake?

Our most basic assumptions on social and political power relationships, how we add wealth to societies through network-enabled economic systems, and the nature of inter-governmental relationships are undergoing phenomenal change. We have a responsibility to ourselves to be heads-up aware about this fundamental process, and to try to obtain an understanding of its consequences, and our preferences.


24 Oct 13:14

"A lot of what’s going on in American politics is, at root, a fight between democracy and plutocracy..."

A lot of what’s going on in American politics is, at root, a fight between democracy and plutocracy - Paul Krugman

— Stowe Boyd (@stoweboyd) October 24, 2014
24 Oct 10:35

Scooter with blinkenlights

by Liz Upton

Alex Markley, a programmer, writer and comedian, has a young relative who, thanks to a Model A Raspberry Pi, some Adafruit Neopixels, some sensors and a scooter is currently the world’s happiest nine-year-old.

I asked Alex if he’s written the project up – he says he’s working on it. We’ll add a link to any build instructions he produces as soon as they’re available.

24 Oct 13:39

Hive Labs at the Mozilla Festival: Building an Ecosystem for Innovation

by Jess


This weekend marks the fifth year anniversary of the Mozilla Festival - and Hive Labs has a ton of fun design - oriented, hands-on activities to get messy with in person or remotely. We are using the event to explore design questions that are relevant to local communities and Hives and to dabble in building out a community-driven ecosystem for innovation. Here's a few highlights:

Challenges to Enacting and Scaling Connected Learning

This year, the Hive track at MozFest ( is bringing together Hive and "Hive curious" travelers from around the world to incubate solutions to shared challenges in enacting and scaling connected learning. We're working together over the course of the MozFest weekend to collaboratively answer questions that come up again and again in our networks across the globe. One question that Hive Labs is focusing on is: How do we build a community that supports innovation in the education space? 

Action Incubator

We will be hosting a series of activities embedded within the Hive track to think through problems in your Hives and local communities and brainstorming solutions collectively. We will be leveraging three teaching kit's that were made specifically to facilitate this kind of design thinking activity:

  • Firestarter: In this activity, participants will identify opportunities and then brainstorm potential design solutions.
  • User Testing at an Event: Events are a great time to leverage all of the different kinds of voices in a room to get feedback on an in-progress project or half-baked idea. This activity will help you to test ideas and projects and get constructive and actionable feedback.
  • Giving + Getting Actionable Feedback: Getting effective and actionable feedback on your half - baked ideas and projects can be challenging. This activity explores some ways to structure your feedback session.

Art of the Web 

This entire track is dedicated to showcasing and making art using the Web as your medium. Follow the #artoftheweb hashtag on twitter. 

in response to the #mozfest remotee challenge

MozFest Remotee Challenge

Want to join in on all of the Mozilla Festival action even though you aren't physically at the event? This challenge is for you! We have compiled a handful of activities focused on Web Literacy, supporting community - based learning and making so that you can take part in the conversation and brainstorming at the Mozilla Festival. Go here to start the challenge.

You can follow along all weekend using the #mozfest or #hivebuzz hashtags on Twitter.

24 Oct 12:21

2 awesome feature requests from Narrative Users – Yes we are listening!

by Angelyn Tan

At Narrative, we value our customer’s feedback seriously, which is why we have tons of channels where you can get in touch with us!

One of our favorite channels (if you do not know this feature by now, you should!) is the Narrative Suggestion Board because it is such an amazing smorgasbord of ideas from all our users.

The Narrative Suggestion Board is a place where we hope to engage all our Narrative users in sharing creative and collaborative ideas to make the Narrative Experience even smarter, more intuitive and more holistic.

If you have a great idea, feel free to share it with us. If someone else has already submitted your idea, it will show up in the search results. You can then simply vote for, and/or comment on it. If it hasn’t been submitted, enter your idea and vote!

Ideas will be reviewed by us to determine their potential and will be presented to the product development team regularly.

To get us started, here are two of our favourite suggestions so far! What do you think?

Make it easier to transfer Narrative Clip ownership

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 13.54.24

We thought we would start off with some good news first! For the past few months, we have been quietly working on an easier process for our users to seamlessly lend out your Clip to a friend or transfer ownership. And we are excited to announce that it is ready!

It is now easy to do a factory reset and to lend your Clip out!

The new version of the Narrative Uploader now has the option to create a new Narrative Account. All you need to do is give your friend the Clip and point them to Once the Clip is connected, the Narrative Uploader will automatically prompt the new user to create a secondary account for the Clip. This way, your own Narrative account is unaffected. Upon signing up, they will get a free 3 month trial of the Narrative Service. Just be sure to empty your Clip before you hand it over.

When you’re ready to use the Clip again, simply connect it to your computer and sign into your account. The Narrative System will automatically disconnect from your friend’s account.

If you would like to do a factory reset, it is also now possible. For more information, check out this video tutorial!

It is effortless. Always make sure to use the latest Narrative Uploader version. 

Try it and let us know what you think! For more information, check out the Narrative Support center!

Make a web app to manage your moments in a PC/Mac

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 14.10.06

Over the past few months, we’ve also received overwhelming requests to have a web app! This suggestion has landed on our developers table for consideration. In order to make the most of your suggestions, we would love for you to go a bit deeper and suggest specific features and services you would like to see built into a web app. Would you want to use the Narrative web interface primarily as a visual log of your pictures or to share/download/edit pictures? We would love to hear different perspectives on this so drop us a comment/vote on this suggestion here!

What other features do you hope to see?  Ping us at@Narrativehelp or share it with the Narrative community here. To learn how to connect with Narrative Support, check this article out.

24 Oct 15:39

Diffusing Member Anger

by Richard Millington

In any group, people will have problems.

If you're the authority within that group, you're the first stop for problems.

Don't deny the problem exists. Don't apologise (not yet). Don't claim you're doing your best. Don't claim you're covered by guidelines. None of these are helpful.

Just focus on clarifying the problem. 

Repeat the problem back to them. Literally, tell them the problem they just described in your own words. 

"to make sure I understood this correctly, the problem is ....."

Then ask further questions to clarify the problem. Ask what they want you to do about the problem. Gather as much information as you can. Then go see if you can resolve it. 

The more you try to understand the problem, the less the member feels you're part of the problem. 

You can't diffuse the anger until the other participant feels you've really understood them. Simply by making a genuine effort to understand them, they feel you're on their side.

If I knew this tactic 10 years ago, I would've saved myself plenty of anguish. 

23 Oct 21:00

Behold! The Near Future [Flickr]

by vanderwal

vanderwal posted a photo:

Behold! The Near Future

24 Oct 18:02

Five things on Friday #95

by James Whatley

Things of note for the week ending October 24th, 2014.


1. I like this


This Superman art wasn’t originally going to be one of my Five things of the week but I wanted to share it with you because a) it feels like the week that I’ve just had and b) it’s just so darn awesome (via SuperPunch).


2. Orange Juice: you’re doing it wrong
Planning on pouring yourself some juice this weekend? Don’t glug, pour.

And do it like this:

Juice Juice

Yeah, probably the best gif I’ve seen all week.

(via Lifehacker)

3. Michael Ironside
Great actor. You’ve seen him in a ton of stuff.

You definitely know him.

This guy:



You recognise him from films such as Top Gun to Total Recall to Starship Troopers and everything in-between. He did an AMA on Reddit recently and it was superb.

Here’s one example response [re Highlander 2]:

There’s a scene in the movie where my character comes to earth, and literally lands by going through the city streets and through the roof of a subway car, and lands on the subway. My stunt double had never been anywhere in the world where cocaine was so cheap. And he got absolutely hammered out of his mind for a week, and ended up running through the streets naked in Buenos Aires, and was arrested the morning of that sequence. So I had to do the stunt, because we had nobody in that part of the world who looked anything like me. So I had to hang on the roof of the subway car, and land on the floor, without any pads, and it was about a 12 foot drop, straight down, and in costume as the character. In the actual movie, you’ll see me slowly get up, and the character checks both his knees as he’s standing, he checks his back, his arms, and then throws his head back with a joyous scream knowing that he hadn’t broken anything.
That was not acting. That was me. Because i realized I had done it, and I didn’t have to do it again! From that moment, we just walked forward with the scene. It’s one of my favorite sequences of that film, because it’s where real life and acting come together in such a joyous moment, and it’s captured.


Featuring anecdotes from almost his entire filmography, Ironside is a fantastic AMA participant and gives bloody brilliant answers. The Christian Bale one might make you feel a bit ill mind.


Michael Ironside – AMA

4. Game Theory and The Dark Knight
This dissection and analysis of all the games that are at play during The Dark Knight is a fantastic read. Good for both fans of Batman and Game Theory.

5. Supermovies: 2014 – 2020
Fan of awesome films? Fan of some of the best awesome films ever made? That means you probably like SUPER HERO films. Not only are they going through a huge resurgence but they’re also, in the main, turning out to be totally brilliant.

The whole thing is about shared universes. But whatever. The important thing is the future. And ladies and gentlemen, this is what your [known] superhero film future looks like –


Batsh*t crazy.


Bonuses this week are all long form articles that I’ve picked up from other newsletters over the past six months and have only just got around to reading/finished:

  • Six Inches is a fairly NSFW short story from Charles Bukowski. Boy meets girl. Girl shrinks boy. Cue: dark hilarity.
  • Who wants to shoot an elephant? Horrible reading.
  • What [leading industrial designer] Frank Nuovo did next [after Nokia]
24 Oct 16:48

4 steps for creating brand evangelists with customer service

by Sara Varni
Many people think customer service is just about answering questions — how a product works, when the next version will come out, why a delivery is late. But for small and medium businesses, it is so much more. It’s one of the most powerful and cost-effective ways for you to drive loyalty and repeat business,... Read more »
23 Oct 20:47

Twinning Tweets: Perspectives on Density

by pricetags

Two items in the Twitter feed: the first from CBC Radio:

Vancouver needs more density says urban theorist Richard Florida


“We’ve got to get over this nimby mentality, ‘Not in my backyard. We can’t build here.’ … We’ve got to engage in real city-building,” Florida told Rick Cluff on CBC Radio’s The Early Edition.

He says Vancouver needs more housing to stop the growing divide between those who have, and those who have not.  …

Florida praises Vancouver’s vibrant creative class, which includes scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs, innovators, artists, and business professionals. These knowledge-based workers represent more than one-third of the city’s workforce.

Vancouver demographics map

“The bad news is…like most advanced countries, [Vancouver is] also becoming more divided,” he says.

Those with higher levels of education and better paying jobs are clustering in the city core.  At the same time, blue collar workers are being priced out of the city’s key areas.

Service and resource industries employ roughly 45 per cent of Vancouver’s workforce, he says. Those are the people being squeezed out of the metro area, into the south and east of the Lower Mainland.  …

“We need a massive investment in this country in transit to connect our outlying areas, to increase density out in the ‘burbs, and make sure people don’t have to drive cars to work.”


The second is a practical example of how that density can be achieved when the consultation and planning processes work – from Peter McMartin in the Sun:

Kensington-Cedar Cottage: Where dense doesn’t mean stupid


It happened through densification, and Kensington-Cedar Cottage was one of the few neighbourhoods in the city to embrace it.

It was one of two pilot neighbourhoods involved in CityPlan, the now defunct planning process initiated by the City of Vancouver exactly 20 years ago this month. …

But beginning in 1992, Kensington-Cedar Cottage went through a 10-year design process to accommodate densification on its own terms. During part of that process, Buckberrough acted as chair of the neighbourhood’s CityPlan committee.

(Dunbar went the other way, and fought densification fiercely, presaging what would be the pattern for most neighbourhoods today.)

“The neighbourhood was dead or dying,” Buckberrough said. “The local Safeway was closing. We needed a new library, and the shopping areas along Kingsway were tired-looking. So we had to kickstart the area. And we thought the best way to revitalize the neighbourhood was to get more people in it.”

Before CityPlan, it had been a neighbourhood of single-family residences, many of which had seen better days. But under CityPlan, roughly two blocks parallel on either side of Kingsway and Knight Street were rezoned RT10, allowing development of strata housing. Infrastructure improvements followed — new sidewalks and street lighting, tree plantings, landscaped medians, traffic circles, bikeways, redevelopment of parks.

The result: Developers began assembling lots, and well-designed townhomes and lane houses began appearing. Across the street from Buckberrough’s house — a tiny, 1,100-sq.-ft. cottage built in 1911 — there is now a handsome seven-unit strata built in the neo-Craftsman style. …

Buckberrough admits that affordability remains a problem. But it has, he said, offered buyers a variety of housing that is less expensive than if their only choice was a single-family residence. Densification didn’t solve the affordability problem for Kensington-Cedar Cottage — nothing can, except the market itself — but it did demonstrate how densification can remake a neighbourhood for the good, and how it can be achieved by a government that listens.

23 Oct 22:42

The Daily Scot: “Younger adults opting to rent”

by pricetags

Scot can relate.

From Yahoo Finance:

Since 2008, the year Lehman Brothers collapsed and home prices dropped precipitously, there has been a steady increase in the number of people ages 18 to 34 renting instead of buying homes. About 875,000 more households are now made up of young adult renters than would have existed if the 2008-era trend had held steady, according to an analysis of census data by Jed Kolko, chief economist at Trulia, a real estate marketing website.

Moreover, as the economy slowly improves and job growth picks up steam, the millions of 20- and 30-somethings who shared living quarters with friends or nestled in their parents’ basements to ride out the economic shock waves from the Great Recession are beginning to branch out on their own. But they are still largely shut out of the mortgage market.

“They’re not going to go from living with their parents to buying a home,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, speaking at a housing conference in Washington. “They’re going to rent an apartment.”


Click to enlarge.

24 Oct 18:35

Changecamp: Reinventing Civic Governance – Oct 25

by pricetags
Citizens are gathering to share ideas and prototype change, starting with ourselves. We create connections, knowledge and tools that drive transparency, civic engagement and democratic empowerment, bringing citizens and government closer together.

Join diverse and engaged changemakers from various sectors for a fast-paced participant driven event.

24 Oct 19:06

ULI: What the developer says and what it means for the referendum

by pricetags

Here’s Rob Speyer, president and co-CEO of Tishman Speyer – “one of the leading owners, developers, fund managers and operators of real estate in the world” – at Thursday’s general session of the Urban Land Institute in New York:


Global Cities: The Developer’s Perspective from Rob Speyer

Among the sociological trends Speyer said the real estate community should heed:
  • Despite predictions to the contrary, the internet has actually deepened a desire for face-to-face interaction and connectivity. Commercial and residential projects where people can meet either intentionally or by chance and build community through common spaces will succeed. Speyer differentiated between “happy” and “unhappy” buildings—those with workers and residents satisfied with their workspace, the mix of nearby amenities, and access to transit, and those that may be architectural wonders but which have tenants who want to leave.


  • Office workers want to work near each other in open spaces that foster collaboration; demand for office space with discrete areas like cubicles or individual offices is in decline. (Interior walls are the “dinosaurs” of office buildings and “may soon be extinct,” he said.)


  • Sustainability involves more than obtaining LEED certification and acquiring solar panels and other green infrastructure for a property. It can also be achieved by building dense, transit-oriented, mixed-use development to eliminate the need among tenants for automobiles, the worst emitters of greenhouse gases.


  • The technology sector will continue to be the economic driver in cities around the globe. Younger tech workers want to live and work in cities and have no desire for what earlier generations aspired to—a single-family home in the suburbs, a car, and a commute.


  • The disparity between the rich and poor in cities is growing. Cities have long been the destination of working-class individuals and families who aspire to a better life, but they are becoming less and less affordable to these households. Private development has a major role to play in expanding affordable and workforce housing options so that low- and moderate-income people can be upwardly mobile, Speyer said. “If we cut that dream off, we are cutting ourselves off.”


I am struck – again – by the disconnect between what we hear from urban leaders elsewhere, notably developers like Speyer, and what many of our leaders here seem to believe – especially those who promote Motordom in the name of economic growth, efficiency and goods movement.

This spring, politicians who are not pushing hard for the passage of the transportation referendum must explain why, given the evidence and trends elsewhere, they don’t care about well-paying jobs, sustainable growth and inclusive prosperity. 

24 Oct 19:44

Referendum: Student Support from Kwantlen

by pricetags

Good news from Kwantlen:


KSA Launches Move Our Cities Campaign

On Tuesday, October 28 at 10:30 am, the Kwantlen Students Association will be launching the Move Our Cities campaign at the Atrium on the Surrey Campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Move Our Cities is a campaign to bring attention to the need for increased transit service South of the Fraser. One of the major focuses of the campaign will be to encourage people to vote for city councillors who will promote the Mayor’s vision for transit in Metro Vancouver.

24 Oct 07:00

Apple SIM: bad news for mobile operators?

by Roland B

Apple SIM Title Pic

Apple SIM quietly introduced

Anyone who saw last week’s Apple keynote (where the company predictably introduced new iPad, Retina iMac and Mac Mini models) probably missed the moment when Apple quietly introduced its carrier-neutral Apple SIM in cellular versions of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, in what could prove to be a disruptive move for the mobile industry.

The Apple SIM might sound inconsequential, but it lets Pay-As-You-Go customers easily switch between mobile operators without having to swap SIM cards; and today most people rarely change networks simply because it’s a rather cumbersome process. But as it stands very few networks are onboard yet – it’s currently limited to AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint (but not Verizon) in the U.S, and Everything Everywhere (EE) in the U.K. Vodafone and 3 have said that for the time being, they won’t be supporting it.

As a consumer, do I want to be able to select the network that want quickly and painlessly? Absolutely.

What is it?

The Apple SIM is a standard size data only nano-SIM that comes preinstalled in the iPad Air 2 (the only device that supports it, for now). This means that instead of having to swap out SIM cards, customers can simply select any of the supported operators from the iPad’s settings menu.

Traditional SIMs contain details such as the MSISDN (the customer’s phone number) and an IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity), a unique number that identifies the actual subscriber. The Apple SIM contains a degree of flexibility in that some of the information it stores can be changed in software.

Unfortunately, it can only be used to access data services rather than voice calls – and it remains to be seen whether it will ever be compatible with new technologies such as Voice over LTE (VoLTE), if that’s even supported on the iPad one day.

Apple SIM on iPad Air 2

Own an iPad and want to switch networks? Just take your pick…


Despite the fact this type of SIM card has been reported in the media as being a virtual SIM (or soft SIM), it is still a long way from being a true virtual SIM that lets consumers pick any operator in the world. In fact, it’s not a virtual SIM at all – there is still a physical card in the device.

As Apple’s own website says:

The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the U.S. and UK right on your iPad. So whenever you need it, you can choose the plan that works best for you — with no long-term commitments. And when you travel, you may also be able to choose a data plan from a local carrier for the duration of your trip.

For now, the Apple SIM is not available to purchase separately, but it could be just a matter of time before it’s bundled with every new iPhone. That is a prospect that may scare the operators, who are reluctant to make it easier for customers to chop and change networks at will. After all, most users will identify the cheapest network and switch instantly. For example, using AT&T but notice that there’s a cheaper data rate on T-Mobile? Just select the one you want on the iPad’s menu.

Apple iPad SIM TrayHaven’t we been here before?

When news of Apple’s strategy spread, shares in French digital security company Gemalto took a nosedive not only because of the Apple SIM but compounded by Apple’s recent move into wireless payments with its NFC-based Apple Pay, that went live on Monday.

To Apple, this isn’t a new idea – it has been contemplating the soft SIM concept for some time. Back in November 2011, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published Apple’s patent (filed for in 2010) for an embedded virtual SIM which is described in more detail here. The Apple SIM is therefore just one step closer to a virtual SIM…

Besides the convenience for users of doing away with a physical card, no doubt Apple would love to go totally SIM free, not least because it enables them to create slimmer devices. And everybody knows how much Apple is obsessed with slimness.

A couple of years ago, Apple already suffered a backlash against embedded SIM cards with the major networks threatening to stop subsidising the iPhone if Apple went through with its plan. That’s why this time, Apple needs to tread carefully in order not to alienate the networks. Perhaps that’s why there was hardly a mention of the Apple SIM during the keynote…

A threat to the networks, or an opportunity?

The main advantage of Apple’s new SIM is that there is no need to be tied into a contract with any one mobile network, and you can basically get data on your iPad whenever you need it. You have the freedom to use any network that has a deal which meets your needs. As Apple says, when on holiday abroad you could choose any data plan from a local network rather than pay roaming fees. As long as there’s a network that supports it…

Apple’s new iPads launched last week may begin a material shift in operators’ attitudes towards SIMs – Barclays

How will it affect the networks? As soon as you discover a network that supports the Apple SIM, you might also notice a special deal available with cheap data prices, so you could switch networks for a while. Then you might change again later on to take advantage of a better deal with someone else. The upshot is, the networks might be forced to become much more competitive.

Imagine if this was available for the iPhone – you would switch it on and see a selection of networks all competing for your custom. Apple could even become a virtual operator who charges levies all data charges, but would be able to constantly find you the best deal and network.

Tim Cook unveils iPad Air 2

Tim Cook unveils the thinner, faster iPad Air 2 that comes bundled with the Apple SIM


Will the Apple SIM eventually be available on the iPhone? It seems unlikely for the time being – it currently makes sense for the iPad which tends not to be subsidised by the operators, but there is less incentive (for the networks) to offer this for the iPhone, as the handset’s true cost is usually subsidised and they want to lock customers in for 2 year contracts. If Apple did bundle it with a new iPhone in future, the operators would most likely fight tooth and nail.

But in the short term, operators will probably realise it’s better to be on the list of networks available through the Apple SIM, as a smaller slice of the pie (or bite of the Apple) is still a slice after all. On the upside, it could be a chance for the networks to make at least some revenue from tablets, a category that doesn’t yet make them much as much as smartphones.

The Apple SIM is definitely a step in the right direction, and has been almost universally praised by the tech press and various consumer websites. But most of the operators are, for the moment, keeping schtum about their intention to get onboard.

Let’s hope that Apple exerts its considerable influence to bring the benefits of increased consumer choice to the market with a future version of the iPhone…

24 Oct 12:02

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 now available in Canada

by Ian Hardy

Sasmung’s fourth iteration of its flagship Note has finally launched in Canada. The 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 4 is widely available on most Canadian carriers today — Bell, TELUS, Rogers, WIND, Videotron, SaskTel, and Eastlink – and can also be purchased from big box retailers.

As we revealed yesterday, pricing is generally within the same range around the $299 on a 2-year term, but Quebec-based Videotron is now showing $249.95 on a ‘reduced price’ with a $79.95 monthly plan. For those looking to purchase the Note 4 outright, prepare to have between $749.95 available $803.

Read our full Galaxy Note 4 here.
Enter our Galaxy Note 4 contest here.

24 Oct 13:51

Rogers launches LTE-Advanced features with new carrier aggregation support

by Daniel Bader

Rogers has rolled out a feature of the Category 4 LTE-Advanced spec called carrier aggregation.

Available in 12 cities at launch — Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Windsor, London, Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston,Moncton, Fredericton, Halifax and Saint John — it allows Rogers to use its newly-deployed 700Mhz spectrum alongside its existing AWS LTE sites to support up to 150Mbps in the downlink.

While the company was already achieving 150Mbps in some markets using 2x20Mhz Band 7 (2600Mhz), this new carrier aggregation deployment enables Rogers to deliver higher speeds more efficiently, in denser areas. Only certain devices support this new LTE-Advanced spec, though: any device with a Snapdragon 801 chip or newer, plus the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, support carrier aggregation through the Qualcomm 9×25 Gobi modem. Prior devices will still connect to Rogers’ LTE network at a maximum of 75Mbps in the downlink.

Rogers is using its new speed to deliver, of course, more consistent mobile video performance (NHL hockey on the go, anyone?), citing an impressive 650 terabytes streamed to 80,000 people in just the first two weeks of the NHL season.

Rogers reported its Q3 2014 earnings yesterday and data revenue surpassed voice revenue for the first time. The company now claims 9.5 million wireless subscribers, with 77% of its postpaid user base owning a smartphone.


Rogers-sold devices compatible with the new carrier aggregation include:

  • Samsung Galaxy S5
  • HTC One M8
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • BlackBerry Passport
  • LG G3
  • LG G Flex
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active

Other devices compatible with carrier aggregation include:

  • OnePlus One
  • Nexus 6

We’ll update this list with more devices as they become known.



24 Oct 15:29

Nexus 6 will cost $749 for 32GB and $799 for 64GB when it comes to Google Play

by Daniel Bader

The Nexus 6 is set to arrive in Canada sometime next month, with pre-orders beginning next Wednesday, October 29th.

While we reported that the massive device would sport a massive price tag, $749 for the 32GB model, we didn’t know what its higher-storage counterpart would cost. Now we do.

Google plans to charge $799 CDN for the 64GB variant, $100 more than what it will be sold for in the U.S.

We still don’t have carrier pricing, but if it follows the trend of being subsidized by between $480 and $500, you can expect a 2-year contract price of $299 to $329, similar to the just-released Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

24 Oct 16:31

Nokia says goodbye to its mobile division with an awkward internal interview

by Jane McEntegart

It’s been just over a year since it announced plans to purchase Nokia’s handset division and Microsoft on Friday confirmed plans to strip the Nokia name from its Lumia handsets.

Rumours about Microsoft’s plans to rebrand its newly-acquired mobile device division have been doing the rounds since September. On Friday morning, Nokia confirmed the change on its official Nokia Conversations blog. Sort of. Under the planned rebranding, the Nokia Lumia name will fade over the coming weeks and will slowly be replaced with Microsoft Lumia.

Tuula Rytila, formerly of Nokia and now senior VP of marketing for phones at Microsoft, said that the change will match a recent shift towards Microsoft-branding for Nokia applications.

The confusing part of all of this is that the Nokia brand isn’t actually going away. Microsoft plans to keep it for low-end devices, like the Nokia 130. It’s only Lumia devices that Microsoft is marking as own-brand products.

As we pointed out earlier this week, Microsoft’s latest device, the Lumia 830, still features Nokia branding. However, Rytila said Microsoft would be releasing the first Microsoft Lumia phone soon.

24 Oct 14:49

Samsung Galaxy S5 to allegedly receive the Android 5.0 Lollipop update in December

by Rajesh Pandey
Unlike HTC and Motorola, Samsung has been pretty mum about its plans of rolling out the Android 5.0 Lollipop update for its flagship handset — the Galaxy S5.  Continue reading →
24 Oct 16:38

Samsung sold 4.5 million Galaxy Note 4 units in its first month

by Rajesh Pandey
If reports from the Korean media are to be believed, Samsung has sold nearly 4.5 million units of the Galaxy Note 4 in the first month of its launch.  Continue reading →
24 Oct 11:55

Ouch: Amazon takes $170M write-down on Fire Phone

Ouch: Amazon takes $170M write-down on Fire Phone:

Taylor Soper:

During the company’s earnings conference call this afternoon, CFO Tom Szkutak revealed that Amazon took a $170 million charge in write-down costs last quarter “primarily related to Fire Phone inventory valuation and supplier commitment costs.” Szkutak also said that Amazon had $83 million worth of Fire Phone inventory on hand at the end of the last quarter.

Yikes. I don’t know how much you’d have to pay a VP or Devil’s Advocacy, but it’s certainly less than $170 million.