Shared posts

26 Aug 20:45

Twitter Favorites: [nacin] Every time I’m asked about Uber, I say it’s a great service but an evil, contemptible company. Every day, I am further validated.

Andrew Nacin @nacin
Every time I’m asked about Uber, I say it’s a great service but an evil, contemptible company. Every day, I am further validated.
26 Aug 06:35

Twitter Favorites: [helesialuke] My blog: an essay on decade of school reform in BC. For some, it will be an unpleasant walk down memory lane. #bced

Helesia Luke @helesialuke
My blog: an essay on decade of school reform in BC. For some, it will be an unpleasant walk down memory lane. #bced
25 Aug 17:49

Twitter Favorites: [nicoleslaw] @krystynheide I guess I despise the lie that these startups are changing the world by including others in their so-called experiments.

Nicole Fenton @nicoleslaw
@krystynheide I guess I despise the lie that these startups are changing the world by including others in their so-called experiments.
27 Aug 03:43

9 Reasons Urban Cycling Makes You an Overall Hardcore Person

by tammy

9 Reasons Urban Cycling Makes You an Overall Hardcore Person

By Claire McFarlane, Illustration by Ian Sullivan Cant

When I first moved to Toronto, my dear sister (an already city-savvy cyclist) gave me her old bike, a helmet and a lock and a few words of wisdom about cycling in Toronto. Advice such as, “Always cross streetcar tracks at a 90 degree angle to avoid getting stuck in them,” have come in extremely handy since. Now, almost a year later, I am more in love than ever with cycling and rely on my bike as my primary form of transportation. Over the past year I’ve realized that cycling has allowed me to evolve into perhaps an overall better, tougher and more hardcore person, and I figure it likely helps others accomplish the same. (Please be advised that the following reasons cycling helps you become an overall hardcore person are solely the representation of my personal opinions and may not reflect the views of all or other cyclists.)

  1.  You are the epitome of efficiency. You have the power to combine your workout and your commute while enjoying an amazing urban adventure.
  2.  You develop a kind of courage that you might not normally have, the kind that allows you to yell at asshole drives that park in the bike lane and who don’t leave you enough space on the road. *
  3.  You, on occasion, may wipe out, but you pick yourself up and keep riding; a little road rash isn’t enough to kill your cycling spirit.
  4.  You develop a bit of an ego after the first few times you pass the same fancy car stuck in traffic on your commute.
  5. You are completely independent; you never need to rely on a second party to get where you need to go.
  6.  You have successfully debunked the old tale that being out in the rain causes illness because you have biked through countless downpours and never missed a beat.
  7. You are always on time for everything because almost no amount of traffic or TTC outages can slow you down.
  8. Your pants start to get worn out in the crotch but you can use the 5 minutes (or more) you saved not sitting in traffic to change out of your ‘bike pants’ and into your ‘work pants’.
  9. Your coworkers may make fun of your helmet but you brush it off because you know just how hardcore you really are (and that your hair looks great).

I strongly believe that cycling helped me to not only survive my first year living in the city but helped me to thrive and to thoroughly enjoy the past 12 months.

*Not all motorists who park in the bike lane or who are not willing to share the road are necessarily assholes, they may have a good reason for doing so (but they really shouldn’t be).

Claire McFarlane has been the dandy managing editor for the last six months and is returning to Ryerson’s journalism school in the fall.

Coming Soon: Ryerson journalism student  – and brand new city cyclist – Jenna Campbell will join the dandy team and share with readers her perspective on cycling for the first time in Toronto.

Related on the dandyBLOG:

7 Ways to Save your Lover

End of the Road for Ride For A Dream

City Cyclist: Toronto construction and bad bike lanes

dandyARCHIVE: Heels on Wheels with Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon

A new Torontonian’s first bike (coming soon)

A new Torontonian’s first bike ride (coming soon)

27 Aug 06:30

Why Community Professionals Feel Like Victims

by Richard Millington

There is an overhyped fear that members might get upset. 

I'm really not too worried if members get upset. I'd rather they didn't get upset, but it's not a big deal if they do. 

People get upset all the time. Some people have personalities where they're prone to being easily upset. 

It's whether being upset has consequences. The answer is usually no. 

I care about whether members visit less, participate less, or buy less. If being upset correlates with one of those, then it's time to take actions. 

In a large enough community, a minority will be upset about anything you do. Some just won't like you because you're the authority figure. 

The danger is spending too much time trying to make these people happy. They will never be happy. Spending your time placating the negative members will leave you emotionally drained. You feel like the victim.

Spend your time helping happy members do something great. You will feel much better.

On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

27 Aug 05:01

Amazon – A very good turn

by windsorr

RFM AvatarSmall






Amazon has done Sony and Microsoft a big favour by acquiring Twitch.

  • Amazon has reached an agreement to purchase Twitch for $972m in cash.
  • Twitch is a YouTube-like website that allows users to upload their video game experiences and share them with other like-minded users.
  • The site has 55m users with 7m logging on every day.
  • Engagement is extremely strong with each of the 7m users spending an average of 2 hours per day on the website.
  • Twitch will become part of the Amazon group of companies but will continue to operate independently.
  • Apart from Twitch’s owners, by far the biggest winners from this transaction are Sony and Microsoft.
  • Gaming is the single biggest piece of the Digital Life pie.
  • Users spend more time playing games on their smartphones and tablets than they do anything else.
  • The Google ecosystem is the largest and strongest ecosystem in the market and it has a glaring hole in its offering: Gaming.
  • By acquiring Twitch, Google would have been a position to use Twitch’s relationship with 55m gamers to jump in and give Microsoft and Sony a really hard time.
  • This is why when it appeared that Google was going to buy Twitch, I was of the opinion that Microsoft and Sony needed to do something to head Google off at the pass (see here).
  • Amazon has very kindly done both companies a big favour and kept Twitch out of Google’s clutches.
  • I suspect that the reason why Google failed to acquire Twitch is the same reason why Amazon will get very little benefit from this acquisition.
  • I think that Google failed to acquire Twitch because Twitch insisted on remaining independent while Google knows full well that to get any value out of it, it needs to be integrated into its Digital Life offering.
  • Start-up companies like this are such hot property right now that they can insist on, and get whatever terms they like when it comes to acquisition.
  • Facebook has exactly the same problem with WhatsApp (see here) and I think that it will be unable to do anything with it while the current situation persists.
  • Consequently, I think that Amazon is going to really struggle to create a coherent gaming offering around Twitch until it can convince the founders to properly integrate into Amazon.
  • This gives Sony and Microsoft breathing space when it comes to the threat that Google presents to their ecosystems.
  • This is particularly so for Sony, whose ecosystem ambitions are almost entirely dependent on growing its influence beyond gaming and media consumption.
  • PlayStation, PC and Xbox produce almost all of Twitch’s content and these platforms are controlled by the two companies.
  • Consequently, I do not think it would be very difficult for Twitch’s offering to be recreated or even improved if the two could come to some arrangement.
  • In the immediate term this is very unlikely and both companies can be very thankful that Twitch has gone to a far less dangerous competitor in the digital ecosystem world.
27 Aug 01:24

Thomas Lukaszuk’s $20,000 roaming bill paid by taxpayers, says ‘this was an expensive lesson’

by Ian Hardy

Over the years we’ve seen everyday Canadians rack up massive wireless roaming charges. However, it’s not just ordinary people making increasing carrier revenue, but high-profile politicians.

Alberta PC leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk is coming clean before the big election, admitting he amassed huge charges during a 2012 vacation as part of the “Compassion to Action” program. Lukaszuk, who was Deputy Premier at the time, said, “there really isn’t private time” and he had to attend to urgent legal file “that required my attention…[and] needed to be dealt with.”

Upon finding out the monetary damage, which was over $20,000, his staff contacted TELUS to reduce the charges, but was unsuccessful and “the bill was begrudgingly paid.” In retaliation, Lukaszuk has since changed carriers.

“Absolutely I made a mistake, and for that I apologize. I did not check the data plan myself, and I did not confirm that my office had done so. The result was that accomplishing a task cost the government more than it should have. This was an expensive lesson,” said Lukaszuk.

Yes, the taxpayers paid his wireless charges.

Source Lukaszuk, Star
26 Aug 20:22

What a good iDEA!

Earlier this year, The Duke of York and Nominet Trust announced the launch of a new initiative to encourage young people to start their own business ventures.

This week, KPMG, one of the leading providers of professional accounting services in the UK, announced they will be backing the initiative, which is aiming to help more than one million UK youth develop digital skills and business ideas over the next five years:

KPMG plus Barclays, MicrosoftTelefónica (O2), Mozilla,, Silicon Valley Bank and University of Huddersfield have given their support to iDEA – the inspiring Digital Enterprise Award, which has been devised by The Duke of York and Nominet Trust – the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder.

iDEA has been created to help 14-25-year-olds develop their digital, enterprise and entrepreneurial skills, boost the confidence of young people and increase their employability status.

Young people taking part in the iDEA award scheme will have their skills and achievements recognised through open badges - a new global standard to recognise skills and achievements across the web. In addition to the three core iDEA badges, many of the new partners will sponsor their own open badge and offer participants in the programme the chance to carry out online tasks in order to earn one.

A full launch of the initiative will happen in October 2014.

For more information, visit

26 Aug 20:46

While the Burning Man people are away

Why can't we live a generous sharing life 52 weeks a year, all around the globe, without burning prodigious amounts of fossil fuels to get to a remote place in the middle of the Nevada desert, one of the most empty places on the planet.

It's relatively easy to live in a cooperative way if you remove all the noise and distractions of our lives. Things need to work a lot better if we're going to survive. And we lose so much time and evolution because we have our individual priorities so wrong.

Maybe it's time to live a different kind of life the whole year round.

26 Aug 20:26

The lament for Canada’s middle class

by Michal Rozworski

I’ve been posting more sparsely lately for a number of external reasons but this should change soon I hope. For now, here is the first major piece I wrote for Ricochet. In some ways, it’s the obligatory piece on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, but really it’s my way of trying to think through the hand-wringing about Canada’s middle class. Below are the first couple of sections, read the rest here.

The US is in the throes of a debate about inequality: It’s the Waltons versus the Walmart workers on food stamps, the runaway rich in the 1 per cent versus everyone else. Meanwhile, Canada’s inequality discussion has been largely confined to the woes of the middle class. Even the New York Times added grist to the mill by proclaiming Canada’s middle class better off than its US equivalent.

Similarly, while the US has made a veritable rock star out of French economist Thomas Piketty, whose 600-page economics tome Capital in the Twenty-First Century has topped best-seller lists, Canadian reception has been much more muted. This is a bit surprising because Piketty, in drawing out the link between capitalism and inequality, tells the story of a new Gilded Age replacing the post-war Golden Age that saw the middle class establish itself. One reason Piketty’s book may have left less of a mark on Canadian debate is that more of a middle class has endured in Canada. But will today’s middle class survive?

What exactly is the middle class?

Hold the champagne corks and the gloating over that New York Times report — perhaps Piketty has something to say to Canada after all. Here is a passage expressing a thought rarely mentioned in discussions of his work:

Make no mistake: the growth of a true “patrimonial (or propertied) middle class” was the principal structural transformation of the distribution of wealth in the developed countries in the twentieth century.

By the mid- to late-20th century, alongside a “social wage” provided by the welfare state (insurance schemes, health care, higher education and more), a significant number of workers had gained access to some wealth, primarily in the form of houses and some private savings, including pensions. They acquired property that could be used and passed down to heirs, thereby becoming “patrimonial.”

By defining the middle class in terms of wealth (rather than income), Piketty focuses attention on long-term social position rather than more transitory changes. Today the middle class comprises the 40 per cent of the population between the poorest 50 per cent, who have never had access to wealth, and the richest 10 per cent, who are increasingly dripping in it.

In essence, this analysis in terms of wealth is what more radical economists refer to when they speak of the development of different strata in the working class. (If the language of the “working class” seems dated and quaint today, it is because we are accustomed to an industrial caricature that no longer applies to most workers in the North.) The middle class is not so much the rich neighbour who moves in next door as it is the sibling who strikes it moderately rich. Like the wealthless bottom 50 per cent, the middle class continues to earn its livelihood largely from work, not from investments in land, stocks or other assets.

Nevertheless, this partial access to wealth has kept radicalism at bay; once implicated into wealth ownership, the middle class was more easily rallied behind political and institutional changes that favour the wealthy, such as low inflation, public debt management and sustained growth in the prices of stocks and other assets (at times via bubbles)…

Parts of the middle class rose even higher, helping form a new professional, managerial and “supermanagerial” elite, which Piketty describes as increasingly moving into the top 1 per cent.

At the other end, these changes took place in a context of discrimination based on factors such as race, immigration status, gender and First Nations status. The creation of a middle class helped entrench discrimination, while further curtailing radicalization by pulling some members of marginalized groups into its ranks…

[The rest is at Ricochet here]

26 Aug 16:28

Amazon: Not an E-commerce Company

by Ben Thompson

Let’s start with the premise that Twitch, the video-game watching network, is the next ESPN – you know, the jewel in Disney’s crown that, by itself, is worth $50.8 billion. Like ESPN, Twitch is about live competition, and, like ESPN, Twitch does exceptionally well in the highly desirable young male demographic.1 Obviously this is the best possible outcome, far-fetched though it may sound. It is certainly an outcome that would make Amazon’s purchase of Twitch for $970 million an amazing deal. It would not, however, have anything to do with e-commerce.

Just a few weeks ago I wrote in Losing my Amazon Religion about Amazon’s focus on Prime Video in particular:

It’s this focus on original and exclusive content – and devices that deliver it – that concerns me, and not because it’s expensive. Rather, what exactly does this have to do with e-commerce?

Needless to say, the Twitch acquisition hasn’t exactly quelled my concerns. It has, though, led me to question my premise; if Amazon is behaving, shall we say, erratically, the issue is perhaps not with Amazon but with my understanding of the company. So I went back and reread the origin story of Amazon in Brad Stone’s excellent The Everything Store:

[John] Doerr’s optimism about the Web mixed with Bezos’s own bullish fervor and sparked an explosion of ambitions and expansion plans. Bezos was going to do more than establish an online bookstore; now he was set on building one of the first lasting Internet companies.

Over the following pages Stone documents how Amazon expanded from books to music and then to DVDs. These categories, along with packaged software (including games) eventually made up the “Media” category in Amazon’s earnings. Today this media category is about 25% of Amazon’s revenue, but, according to my understanding, almost all of Amazon’s “profits.” Said profits are reinvested into all the other parts of Amazon’s business, but, it must be asked, to what ends? Is Amazon really an e-commerce company? Or are they a company bent on dominating the world?

Returning to Twitch, I can think of three possible reasons for Amazon’s purchase:

  • Amazon is looking to buttress their media business – That Media business that underpins the Amazon machine is not in the best of shape; traditional media forms are going away, and, except for books, Amazon does not have a ready-made replacement from a revenue standpoint. In this view, Twitch offers a new revenue model (ads, primarily, although there are also premium subscriptions) that can help fill this gap.

  • Amazon wants to challenge Valve and/or Sony and Microsoft – I think this is a very underreported aspect of this deal. Steam in particular has taken a significant bite out of Amazon’s packaged software business, and I know that Amazon has at least internally considered building a direct challenger. Amazon has also included gaming capability into the Fire TV, including an optional controller, and has bought their own gaming studio, basically following the script I laid out in How Apple TV Might Disrupt Microsoft and Sony. However, as I insinuated in Gaming and Good Enough, hard core gamers are very unlikely to so easily abandon the established players. In this view Twitch is a backdoor way to “get in” with hardcore gamers; imagine a Fire TV built around Twitch and Amazon’s own games.

  • Amazon wants to rule the world – I put it this way only partly in jest, because I’m starting to suspect this is a bigger factor than anyone – including Amazon’s everpatient investors – fully appreciates. Remember, Bezos sold books not because he was obsessed with being a bookseller, but because he identified a dominant strategy; as Stone’s book suggests, perhaps Bezos’s goal was simply to build a dominant company, and e-commerce has only ever been a means to an end.

The second reason, that this deal was about gaming, is interesting from a tactical perspective, but the far more intriguing question is the weight one gives to reasons one and three. If you buy reason three – that Bezos wants to rule the world – then there is even more urgency attached to reason one. To be clear: Amazon’s continued expansion is built on the profits from its media category, but it is that category that is the most under threat from the digitalization of said media. In other words, what if Twitch is both offense and defense?

Regardless, the takeaway for me – and what should be the takeaway for all of Amazon’s investors – is that Amazon is not an e-commerce company. No more pointing at the fact that e-commerce is only 6% of U.S. retail, or that Amazon’s multi-sided network of merchants and customer base are the key factors in determining their future success. No, the company is going for something a whole lot bigger, even as their foundation is being slowly watered down by the same Internet that made Bezos feverish nearly 20 years ago.

  1. Twitch’s video game playing “athletes”, though, peak far earlier than professional athletes according to this fascinating article in The Verge

The post Amazon: Not an E-commerce Company appeared first on stratechery by Ben Thompson.

26 Aug 18:54

How to Decide on Attending a Conference

by Andre Blackman

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It never fails. After the 4th of July, summertime seems to fly by in a hazy blur of last minute grilling, family vacations and sneaking out of the office early on Fridays. Here we are in the final weeks of August where school buses are hopping back onto the roads and school supplies are scattered across various stores. So you know what that means, Fall is coming and…

Conference season will be here soon. Yay!

You know what I’m talking about. The rush of coordinating flights and hotels, connecting with colleagues and trying to figure out the best one to go for your/your company’s budget. Often times this is met with cramming in work travel before cramming in family holiday travel.

Double Yay!

So let’s dig in. The health care innovation landscape has plenty to choose from so let’s try to reduce that state of frazzlement (yep, just made that up).

How Much Will It Cost?

Let’s go ahead and get this one out the way. Often times when it comes to meetings and conferences, the question of whether you can afford to attend comes up – fast. Whether you have direct access to shape a conference/travel budget or not, this is usually a make or break situation. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that might help clarify and prioritize:

Are there Volunteer Opportunities?

Back when I was still getting started in my career, I made it a point to get involved in conferences through volunteering. Sure, they may have had a student discount but hey, free is even better. More important though, was being given the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at how the event was put together. Also, being able to interact with speakers at the registration table and preparing them for stage time was invaluable to growing my network. Lastly, don’t think the volunteer status is just for “those young kids and interns” – whether you’re growing your influence or are already well established, having the service-minded role of a volunteer can go a long way in the eyes of your peers. Oh yeah and ask about these opportunities early – they often fill up fast.

Are there Media/Press Passes Available?

This is where having a platform and thought leadership influence can have a big impact. Often times, conferences want to make sure that people are talking about the content they’ve worked so hard to curate. This is where you come in. What platforms do you have a number of readers or a decent sized audience with? Is your Twitter account active? Do you write regularly on your blog and cover the topics that the conference has in common? This is why I talk about building a platform for yourself so much – there are a number of reasons it pays off and this is just one of them. However one of the things you want to get clarity on up front is what constitutes press for the event. Sometimes there is a difference between actual press (journalist) vs a media influencer (blogger, thought leader). Just like the volunteer, ask early.

Apart from the conference itself, what will travel cost?

Ah, travel and lodging. That sneaky little line item that sometimes can turn a smile upside down. Whether you get the actual ticket taken care of or not doesn’t really matter if you can’t get to the darn place. And the longer the conference is, the higher the bill for a hotel. Usually if you’re working at a company you might be privy to a discount at a particular chain. If you’re working as a solopreneur/consultant you may want to check out AirBnB. Lastly, if you’re staying far away from the event location, you’re going to have to consider how you’re getting back and forth. This is a big part of planning if you’re attending the SXSW Interactive event in Austin each year, for example. Having something like Uber in your pocket might be a good idea. If you have family or friends in the area, I would consider this a last resort – especially if it’s a really important event. You’ll want to stay focused. I have more to say about that as well – maybe I should write a separate post on it.


What Will You Be Doing There?

There are many reasons why you should make sure and get out onto the conference circuit. From learning, networking, being seen (yes, I said it) and of course getting up on stage to speak/present – all are good and often times necessary to become a better professional/innovator/thought leader.

Are You Speaking?

If so, congratulations! Public speaking is hands down one of the best ways for you to build your credibility and brand in the field. The visibility alone that comes from speaking at an event is worthwhile (even better when you get paid for it!). So this is obviously a no brainer. You signed on the dotted line to present something awesome and mind-blowing to the audience – let’s get it done.

Do You Want to Speak at this event?

So if this is a conference that you’d like to be able to get on stage and present material to the audience, it might be a smart idea to get immersed and get the view from the other side of the stage. Not only will you be able to see the lay of the land as far as mingling with attendees and experiencing what sessions/keynotes are like, you will have a chance to have direct contact with the conference organizers. Have a question to ask that will most likely get buried in their inbox? Now’s your chance.

Networking opportunities?

Attending a conference that you’ve carefully scoped out for relevance can be a great way for you to rub elbows with colleagues and influencers who you may only connect with online. Have an idea you want to run by someone? Want to spread the word on your new consultancy? Looking to get your foot in the door of a new job? Nothing beats those face to face interactions of a live event.

How Will It Align With Your Body of Work + Expertise?

This is more of a thoughtful question as it goes with the 30,000 ft view that I try to encourage clients to think about. At the end of the day, this is a large investment of your time, energy and (usually) money.

A few years ago I was taking a walk outside at a conference with one of my good friends Susannah Fox (formerly of the Pew Internet Project) and we were discussing the future of our respective work. I remember her telling me about how she was getting really intentional about the amount of conferences she was going to be attending and it really made an impact on me. Often times we get caught up in the hamster wheel of doing things just because or it has been a tradition. In this new world of work and ongoing busyness, it’s going to become increasingly important that you take a step back and think about where you invest your time. Especially as you continue to build your own brand and platform for great work.

As you think about how this event will build your brand, consider what the tangibles will be:

  • will you be writing about the event and takeaways on your blog? (highly recommended)
  • will you be tweeting about it during the day? (great way to build your Twitter following)
  • how many people will be connecting with afterwards that you can add to your Linkedin connections?
  • are you going to be interviewing speakers for your podcast or blog?

Hope this helps a bit with framing your thinking and provide relief as you make final plans for the crazy season. And before you know it, it’ll be time to battle masses of people around the country for space on the road for Thanksgiving (that didn’t help did it?).

26 Aug 17:34

“Wacky Mobile Cases Have Become a Serious Business”

by Federico Viticci

Adam Welch, writing at The Financial Times (via Ben Evans):

The wacky phone case made its catwalk debut at Jeremy Scott’s inaugural show for Moschino autumn/winter 2014. In keeping with the rest of the collection – kitsch, colourful, cute – it was shaped to resemble a packet of French fries.

I was in Porto Cervo last month, and I saw a Moschino boutique with the French fries case mentioned in the article. Initially, I thought it was silly, but then I looked around and all my friends and people who were checking out the store were pointing out how cool that case was because it was funny and unique.

While I'm not a case person, I've noticed an increase in popularity of these “wacky” phone cases – for iPhones and Android phones – over the past year. The numbers seem to prove that, just like old Nokia phones, the smartphone cover/case as a lifestyle accessory is back.

∞ Read this on MacStories

26 Aug 00:00

Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds


Alison Flood, The Guardian, Aug 29, 2014

So the premise here is that context has an impact on memory, and that eBooks read on the Kindle lack the appropriate context for remembering. "In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers," said Mangen. But, you know, it's one study, with one set of readers. I've been reading online for the last 30 years. I expect my sense of context may well be different.

[Link] [Comment]
26 Aug 16:45

Instagram announces new timelapse app ‘Hyperlapse’ for iOS

by Jane McEntegart

Instagram has released a brand new standalone application for iOS users. The app allows users to capture time lapse videos that are instantly stabilized, so you shoot video from a moving vehicle, while running, or even falling.

Though there are a ton of time lapse smartphone applications out there, Hyperlapse removes the need to set your phone up on a tripod or hold it still while you shoot. You can also speed up videos, and (of course) you can share your creations through Instagram and Facebook when you’re finished.

The app is free to download from the App Store, and the Instagram team promises that Hyperlapse was created to be as simple as possible to use. In that vein, it doesn’t require an account: you just open the app and start shooting. Check out the video below for a glimpse of Toronto in the Hyperlapse demo video.

This is the first major release we’ve seen from the Instagram crew since it was acquired by Facebook in 2012. Unfortunately, though Instagram would apparently like to create an Android version, it doesn’t look like we’ll see one anytime soon. Wired reports that the camera and gyroscope APIs on Android devices need to change before that can happen.

26 Aug 14:51

I Take Photographs To Make Discoveries For Myself

by A Photo Editor

I am interested in ideas. I am not interested in doing the same thing over and over again. The reason I take photographs is to make discoveries for myself. Always trying to piece together the puzzle, that’s where I get my rush. Once I find the answer I am looking for that’s usually it for a project, the excitement and energy is gone. I move onto something else, or away from that subject matter until I can view it with fresh eyes again.

via An interview with Trent Parke – Try Hard Magazine.

26 Aug 14:32

Twitter's New Favorite: I Want Groupings, Instead

Farhad Manjoo probes Twitter’s new model for favorites, and never quite gets to the heart of the matter. But he tees it up well:

Farhad Manjoo, Save the Fav, Twitter’s Digital Body Language

There’s a kerfuffle at the moment on Twitter about what should happen when you fav something.

Until recently, when you pressed the “favorite” button on a tweet — that is, the little star below a Twitter posting — almost nothing happened. Other users, including the one who originally posted, might see that you’d starred the tweet, but Twitter’s “favorite” was different from the “like” button on Facebook. It wasn’t taken to mean that you actually liked or were interested in the substance of that tweet.

This made the fav one of the few forms of online speech that were mostly disconnected from consequence. When it wasn’t being used as a bookmark to help you remember links for later, pressing “favorite” on a tweet was the digital equivalent of a nod, a gesture that is hard to decipher. The fav derived its power from this deliberate ambiguity.

But now Twitter is slightly altering what happens when you press “favorite.” In what may or may not be a short-term experiment, the service is beginning to use faves as signals in deciding how to arrange users’ timelines. Under its new policy, if Twitter notices that a lot of your friends have faved a tweet, it may show you that tweet, even if you don’t follow the person who posted it.

The reason this feels odd is that it breaks the convention we’re used to, and replaces it with something that doesn’t follow network connections. If Twitter changed the rule so that all my followers would see my favorites it would follow the retweet model. But in that case, why have both retweet and favorite?

The new model is a popularity-oriented approach, but what about something more semantic? What if twitter allowed us to tag ourselves in our profiles, and then would direct tweets to us that matched our preferences? This is the concept of groupings, or Chris Messina’s Channels concept, inverted (see Hash Tags = Twitter Groupings). A grouping is a collection of people related through the use of a tag. You don’t get invited to a grouping, like a group: you invite yourself by tagging.

So when someone in my social scene (like friend of a friend) tags a tweet with #postnormal or #hashtags I would see that in my feed, because I am a member of the #postnormal and #hashtags groupings.

Of course, Twitter could simply develop the new favorite algorithm in a way that does the same as self-tagging and groupings would. I’d be happy with that.

26 Aug 14:11 Provides Platform for Pets Boarding and Adoption Services

by Zen Soo


Going on a holiday but not sure if your neighbor would be willing to look after your pet yet again? Owners of dogs and cats need not worry about being stuck in this dilemma any longer with, a Chinese startup that was launched in April 2013, which aims to solve this problem by providing pet owners with a list of pet stores or animal hospitals that offer boarding services.

Available as an app and website, users living in Beijing and Tianjin can simply enter the district they’re living in to pull up a list of available stores or hospitals near them. Each listing displays a collection of photographs of the venue, as well as the price range for boarding on a daily basis.

The pet owners can then indicate the type and size of their pet, which determines the cost per boarding day. Following which, an online reservation and payment is made before the owner drops the pet off at the designated venue. Owners are also required to provide their pets’ immunization records and certification (dogs only) to the venue.


A listing of one of the available pet shops that provide boarding services.

Apart from being a platform for boarding services, Bagong also allows users to list animals available for adoption, and interested parties are able to contact the owners via private message, WeChat or mobile phone and adopt a pet free of charge.


Potential pet owners can adopt a pet free of charge on Bagong.

Those whose pets are missing or lost can also put up a notice with relevant information, and others can help to spread the message by sharing the notice on social platforms such as Qzone, Weibo or WeChat.

Other sections on the site include Pet Show, where pet owners can share images or GIFs of their animal companions, and Discover, where owners can find a wealth of information about raising their pets and feature stories.

Bagong has come up with an identification tag for pets to wear around their necks, making it easier for owners to recover their dogs or cats if they run off. The back of the tag holds a QR code which displays the pet’s information, such as its owner’s name and contact number. In the event that your dog wanders away from you, strangers who come across your pet would be able to easily retrieve your information and return the pet safely. Currently, Bagong is offering a free tag for each mobile number registered, and preorders can be placed here.

The Bagong team is also looking into bringing in smart hardware for pets next year, as well as an independent app called Bagong Pets that serves as a platform for more services such as pet grooming, bathing, training, and medical services.

26 Aug 12:44

35,000 Fire Phones...

35,000 Fire Phones...:

Charles Arthur on the likely initial usage of Amazon’s Fire:

Therefore even allowing for margins of error, it seems unlikely - based on Chitika’s data and the ComScore data - that there were more than about 35,000 Fire Phones in use after those 20 days.

If that’s even remotely the case, the Fire Phone is a disaster right now for Amazon. This is a product they’re promoting on their homepage. You should be able to sell at least hundreds of thousands of anything on that page.

I’ll go ahead and renew my call for a VP of Devil’s Advocacy.

[via @counternotions]

26 Aug 11:25

26 Aug 11:03

How Norway has avoided the 'curse of oil'

How Norway has avoided the 'curse of oil':

Sarah Treanor:

For while other countries have struck oil and then binged on the revenues, by contrast Norway is continuing to invest its oil and gas money in a giant sovereign wealth fund.

The fund, worth about $800bn (£483bn), owns 1% of the entire world’s stocks, and is big enough to make every citizen a millionaire in the country’s currency, the kroner. In effect, it is a giant savings account.

1% of all the stocks in the world. Crazy (smart).

We’ll see how this plays out in the long run, but it strikes me as smart for any “boom” town to diversify as much as possible when they can — before they can’t, and they’re screwed.

26 Aug 06:30

The Type Of Audience You Foster

by Richard Millington

If we want to write posts that are popular and widely shared, we know how to do it.

1) Use a benefit-led headline. "7 Ways To Get The Audience You Crave!"

2) Use bullet points. A lot like these, only more of them and not numbered. 

3) Keep it short. Keep the posts to around 150 to 250 words. 

The problem with attracting the masses is it rarely benefits you much.

By every standard metric (views, shares, likes, tweets), this post about calculating the ROI of customer service communities was among the least popular I've ever written. 

It also gained business from 2 new clients (from 4 that approached us), 4 new members on CommunityGeek, and several interesting discussions via e-mail with people I admire.

By that measure, it's quite possibly the most successful post I've ever written. 

This isn't an isolated example. It's happened several times. Long, detailed, posts that cover a very specific topic in depth aren't shared, but attract exactly the sort of people a company like us needs. They are a flag for a specific group of people. 

We face this choice when building our communities.

We can round-off the edges in our work to attract the masses. We can make the process of finding, joining, and participating in the community easier and easier. We can churn out ever-generic material using all the latest viral techniques to attract the crowd. We can initiate discussions that appeal to the mass. 

This might give you a quick blip in the numbers, but it won't lead to a long-term, sustained, community.

Far better to do the opposite. Initiate discussions, create content, and organize events that go very deep into niche topics. You will attract exactly the sort of people you want. 

On October 29th to 30th, the world's top 250 community professionals are going to SPRINT in San Francisco. Will you be one of them?

26 Aug 04:07

Firefox India – Double edged sword.

by windsorr

RFM AvatarSmall






Unconformity to the design ensures losses.

  • Mozilla has announced that Intex, the Indian handset maker, has launched a Firefox powered device called Cloud FX Phone that will go on sale for $33.
  • Later this week, a second device manufactured by Spice Mobility will be launched for the price of $38.
  • Both of these devices look like they are based on the $25 smartphone reference design that was launched at MWC this year.
  • My view on this platform remains unchanged (see here) in that I believe that the project needs to ship 10m units of the design with no modifications in order to break even.
  • Unfortunately, I see evidence that the same problem that killed the “3G for all” program in 2007 occurring yet again.
  • In 2007 the winner of that contract (LGE) needed to accumulate more than 6m of orders of its reference SKU in order to ship enough units to break even.
  • Unfortunately, every customer wanted something different meaning that LG would end up spending a fortune customising all the variants and consequently lose money on the overall project.
  • Consequently the project was quietly put to sleep.
  • The same thing appears to be happening again as the Cloud FX phone and the Spice Mobility devices look like they are only loosely based on the standard $25 reference design.
  • The specification of the Cloud FX Phone and its price indicate that Intex has tinkered with the specification to make its own version of the device.
  • While this is not an issue per se, it means that Intex will have incurred further costs to make its desired variations.
  • This is clear in that the device has a 2MP camera while the reference design uses 0.3MP and it has 128MB of RAM while the reference has 1GB of embedded DRAM.
  • The fact that the Spice Mobility device will sell for $38 implies that, it too, has made modifications to the standard design.
  • The beauty of the reference design is that someone else has done the integration and testing already meaning that all the vendor has to do is put it together.
  • This ensures a meaningfully lower development cost and greater economies of scale if parts can all be sourced together.
  • This is critical to enabling a handset maker to be able to break-even at a very low price.
  • In this instance the reference design is controlled by Spreadtrum who was also tasked with buying all the parts in bulk so that everyone could benefit from lower prices.
  • However, it looks like each manufacturer is going it alone which essentially ensures that the $25 price will be missed and everyone will lose money even at the higher price points.
  • Furthermore, The Firefox ecosystem is very short on third party apps.
  • So much so that WhatsApp connectivity has to be provided by a third party app. on these devices.
  • Consequently, these manufacturers are not going to benefit from the scale effect that is so desperately needed to make this project fly.
  • I will be surprised if these two devices ship 1m each leaving the project short of 8m devices in the best instance even if everyone was sticking to the script.
  • Consequently, I see no way for this project to make money and continue to remain extremely cautious concerning the outlook for the Firefox ecosystem.



26 Aug 00:50


by James Johnstone

Strathcona as it was in the 1890s. Hastings Sawmill in the foreground
Date: August 30

Time: 10:00

Departs: 611 Alexander Street at the north foot of Princess Avenue

414  Alexander Street in 1890 CVA Photo SGN 295
Approximately 2 hours

$20 per person

The largely industrialized area of the Strathcona North of Hastings is the oldest part of the city of Vancouver. The point of land on the north foot of Dunlevy where Captain Edward Stamp established Vancouver’s first industry, the Hastings Mill (originally the Vancouver Island Spar, Lumber & Sawmill Co.) in 1865, was known as Kumkumalay ("big leaf maple trees").

BC Archives Photo E-06423
Before it became the site of the first European settlement on the south side of Burrard Inlet it had been used for millenia by Coast Salish people as a summer camp during their seasonal cycle.

CVA photo Str P223 showing the Alexander and Bell-Irving homes on Alexander Street in 1887
The sawmill manager, R. H. Alexander and Vancouver’s Bell-Irving family had their first stately homes on the 300 block of Alexander Street. 30 years later the 500 and 600 blocks of Alexander was Vancouver’s Red Light District. There are still some original bordellos standing.

578 Alexander. Bordello entrance  foyer tiles - by Curt Lang, 1972 VPL#85872X

Vancouver’s first Mayor, Malcolm A. MacLean, as well as world-renowned theoretical physicist Shuichi Kusaka, a protégé of Albert Einstein both lived on the 300-block of East Cordova Street. One of the oldest houses still standing in Vancouver, the Thomas Dunn house, is on the south side of the same block.

CVA photo Str P223 showing 385 East Cordova in 1887
Though the massive forced dislocation of Vancouver’s Nikkei (Japanese) community in 1942 changed the neighbourhood forever, there are still many physical reminders of the time when Powell Street was a vibrant, flourishing neighbourhood called “Little Tokyo”.

Asahi Baseball Team on Powell Grounds 1931 - VPL 86005
Oppenheimer Park, the site of the annual Powell Street Festival was once known as Vancouver’s Hyde Park.

CVA 99-2642 May Day demo Powell Street Grounds  1932 Stuart Thomson
It was the scene of many labour demonstrations, and Pssst! Communists were known to meet and plot at the World Hotel at Powell and Dunlevy.

Though many of the physical reminders are now gone this neighbourhood, the oldest part of Strathcona and Vancouver, is very rich in history.

Come for a two-hour walk as see what is left. You will be amazed. Like my other tours, I will bring a binder filled with old archival images of houses, buildings and people from days gone by.

To reserve a space, e-mail: historywalks (at)

This is the one and only Milltown (Strathcona North of Hastings) History Walk of the 2014 Season

25 Aug 16:09

Twitter Favorites: [quinnnorton] Inspired by @ftrain, I wrote How to be Polite… for Geeks. They say don’t be a dick, but they never tell you how.

Quinn Norton @quinnnorton
Inspired by @ftrain, I wrote How to be Polite… for Geeks.… They say don’t be a dick, but they never tell you how.
24 Aug 23:36

Twitter Favorites: [skeskali] Today I learned that the fan base of the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL is 50% female. Are there any NFL teams that come close?

Cecily Walker @skeskali
Today I learned that the fan base of the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL is 50% female. Are there any NFL teams that come close?
25 Aug 17:34

MERTzilla begins in the Bay Area!

by epierce
In Q3 2014 WPR is beginning Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) training in the Bay Area, also know as MERTzilla. Training is beginning in California but will continue at our […]
25 Aug 23:38

Next Nexus phone will be made by Motorola, likely named Nexus X

by Jane McEntegart

Google’s Nexus 5 is almost a year old, and though there was concern that the company was ditching the Nexus program completely, assurances came at Google I/O that this was not the case. Recent rumours suggested the company was planning a 2014 flagship Nexus phone in collaboration with Motorola and codenamed Shamu. Previously referred to as the Nexus 6, it looks like Google may ditch the numbered naming convention we’ve seen with the last couple of Nexus phones and go with ‘Nexus X’ for 2014.

Phone Arena reports that the device will be Motorola-made and that Google is planning a “secret launch” for the device around Halloween. The Nexus X name isn’t set in stone, but it’s what the phone is being referred to as internally and will “likely” be the final product name. The device is said to feature a 5.9-inch screen, which we’d heard before, but Phone Arena’s sources say we can also expect a 2560 x 1440 resolution, as well as a Snapdragon 805 chipset with a 2.7 GHz CPU, a 13MP camera in the back and a 2.1MP camera in the front.

If these specs are legitimate, this would be the largest Nexus phone to date. It would also be the first time a Nexus phone has broken the 5-inch barrier. The display on the Nexus 5 was rumoured to measure 5.2 inches but ended up at just 4.95 inches.  The specs above aren’t unreasonable when you consider the competing flagship phones that have already been announced, along with the specs of the Nexus 5 (Snapdragon 800, 4.95-inch display, and an 8MP camera). About the only thing that seems a little out there is the screen size.

25 Aug 19:01

Is the Canadian media responsible for Western Canadian alienation?

by Alex

Read the original post at Is the Canadian media responsible for Western Canadian alienation?.

What is the root cause of Western Canadian alienation?

Contrary to common arguments, it’s not because the rest of Canada fails to understand the West’s “distinct history, economy and society“, it’s not due to the National Energy Program or even (as my friend and colleague Angus Reid once noted) to the under-representation in our electoral system and public service outposts. David Kilgour may have been onto something when he laid some of the blame on the CBC, but not because it has failed to “reflect local needs and regional aspirations”.

No, my friends: after 16 years in Vancouver, I am now Western-alienated enough to reveal the truth: Western Canada is structurally disadvantaged by the challenges of conducting trans-continental, cross-time-zone media appearances.

Photo of CBC camera showing how I tried to visualize it as a robot husband.

These challenges were on my mind last week, when I participated in a panel on the CBC’s The National. It was a great conversation about digital marketing, and I was delighted to be invited to comment alongside the Globe & Mail’s Susan Krashinsky and Polar’s Kunal Gupta. But Kunal and Susan got to sit in the studio with host David Common, while I stared into a faceless camera in Vancouver with only audio feedback. Thanks to David’s excellent moderation and a camera operator who made damn sure I looked in the right direction, I was able to produce a reasonable facsimile of a person-to-person conversation. But I had to trick myself into imagining the camera was a human face — first, by imagining that my husband was surviving an untimely death by turning himself into an artificial intelligence with telepresence equipment, and then, when that made me too sad to smile, by imagining that he was on a 2-week space mission and had asked me to keep his telepresence device online so that he could interact with me and the kids.

I ask you: how is a crazy woman talking to her imaginary space-traveling husband supposed to compete for air time with live, in-studio panelists? This is the kind of challenge we Westerners have to contend with all the time. (And yes, we all handle it by picturing our spouses in space. Every single one of us.)

Radio is no better. I have lost track of the number of times I’ve participated in radio panels at times when my fellow panelists were well into their work day, or at least their waking hours, whereas for me it was the middle of the night. I haven’t lost track because I’ve done it so many times; I’ve lost track because I don’t remember much of anything that happens at 4 in the morning, unless it’s a steamy dream about Paul Rudd. But I can tell you from hearing the audio replays that while I can be reasonably articulate while still in my pajamas, I can’t kick Eastern Canadian intellectual butt the way I would after a couple of cups of coffee.

Even print appearances aren’t immune to the Western disadvantage. In an effort to accommodate reporters on EST deadlines, I’ve done media interviews while eating breakfast, while driving my kids to school, and worst of all, while getting dressed. (Now you know why people in Toronto dress better: they aren’t talking to reporters while picking out their outfits.)

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate media opportunities that come my way, even if the timing means I’m 30% worse-dressed and 50% stupider than I would be in an in-person interview at a normal time. What I just want central Canadians to understand — speaking as someone who grew up in Toronto, and didn’t understand what Westerners were whining about — is that Westerners are not as whiny or stupid as we seem. If we’re whiny, it may be because you’re catching us before we’ve woken up, and if we seem stupid or disoriented, maybe it’s because we’re not sure where to look when someone is talking in our right ear but appearing on a screen to our left.

So that’s it, folks. It’s only taken 16 years for me to become an Officially Alienated Western Canadian. I’m available to discuss this topic anytime via TV, radio or print…but if you want to hear the best take, please call after 9 am Pacific.

Read more about better living with social media by visiting Love your life online

25 Aug 19:46

Powered By, Wandering Weather Shows Forecasts for Your Trips

by Federico Viticci

Created by Italian developer Cosimo Talò, Wandering Weather lets you check weather conditions for your car trips and plan accordingly.

The idea is simple enough: using data returned by Dark Sky's service, the app lets you add a starting point and a destination with location data based on Apple Maps. You can choose a start time then hit the large “Calculate route” button to switch to a map view that will display forecasts for the selected date and time and subsequent “checkpoints” along the way. You can tap on transit points to get more information about the forecast such as temperature and probability of precipitation, or you can unlock the premium features with a $0.99 In-App Purchase and see travel details. If you don't want to unlock the extra features, the app is perfectly usable in its free version, but it will display iAds.

What Wandering Weather lacks is interface polish and refinements throughout the app. The main screen and detail views for travel and forecast information could use a more elegant presentation; because Wandering Weather is meant to be used to check forecasts for future road trips, there should be an indication about the accuracy of data – I was able to load forecasts for 2016, but I doubt those will remain unchanged.

Wandering Weather makes cool use of and Apple Maps, but I'm hoping that Caló will improve the overall experience with a refreshed design, more date and forecast options, and the ability to define transportation methods (car is the only one available now). You can get Wandering Weather for free on the App Store.