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27 Sep 19:57

Elrond, Agile Development Sage

by Eugene Wallingford

Call me a crazy extreme programmer, but when I came across the Tolkien passage quoted in my previous post on commitment and ignorance again recently after many years, my first thought was that Elrond sounded like a wise old agile developer:

Look not too far ahead!

You aren't gonna need it, indeed.

This first thought cast Gimli in the role of a Big Design Up Front developer. Unfortunately, that analogy sells his contribution to the conversation short. Just as Gimli's deep commitment to the mission is balanced by Elrond's awareness, so, too, is Gimli's perspective applied to software balanced by Elrond's YAGNI. Perhaps then Gimli plays the role of Metaphor in this fantasy: the impulse that drives the team forward to the ultimate goal.

Just another one of those agile moments I have every now and then. I wonder if they will start happening with more frequency, and less reality, as I get older. They are a little like senior moments, only focused on programming.

27 Sep 22:09

It’s now possible to go ‘incognito’ in Google’s iOS app

by Rose Behar

Google released an update to its iOS search app that allows users to browse content privately without their keywords and browser history being saved.

The company notes in its version update notes on the App Store that users can enter incognito mode with a 3D shortcut by hard pressing on the Google icon.

What is perhaps even more interesting, however, is that users can enable Touch ID for incognito mode. This will lock down the private browser after you’ve left it, only allowing re-entry if they provide an authorized fingerprint.

incognito mode entered

Other changes made in the update include a performance improvement that reportedly reduced the crash rate by 50 percent, and the ability to watch YouTube videos directly from search results without being booted to the YouTube app or a webpage.

Related: Google reveals ‘YouTube Go’ for offline viewing

SourceApp Store
27 Sep 19:34

on disconnecting to think

by D'Arcy Norman

I’m in the third week of a PhD program, and have had to make some adjustments to how I do things in order to be able to concentrate and actually think. I was struck by my inability to read a full paragraph without switching over to check email/calendar/twitter/slack/facebook/whatever. Mostly email and twitter. I talked about it with my supervisor, and he suggested trying a move offline, to shift while trying to actively engage in whatever material I was working with.

At first, I thought it was a silly idea. I’m basically living in digital content – everything I do is in OneNote and Outlook, synced to every device I use. My email and calendar basically organize my day. There are people in there.

But, I also need to be able to withdraw. To remove myself from the chaos and distraction and constant competing demands for my attention, in order to really think deeply and longly about something (or somethings). I spent some time observing what I do on my desktop, iPad and phone. So much of it is scattered, unfocussed, and intensely synchronous – responding in near realtime, rather than pausing to think and reflect.

He suggested a ritual – totems and practices that signify the shift from Always Connected Work D’Arcy to Solitary Time to Think D’Arcy. So, I bought a new paper notebook – handcrafted in Italy – wrapped in rich leather (I don’t believe it’s Corinthian). Something I would never have used otherwise – it has a fussy leather strap tie that I would have avoided as inefficient or unwieldy. But, it serves the purpose perfectly. And, I bought a fountain pen. The feel of writing with it is completely different, especially in a good notebook. And I’m writing in cursive for the first time since the early 80’s. Which is interesting, because it forces me to slow down as I write.


The hard part is stopping myself from distracting myself. I spent some time at my grad student desk yesterday, to prepare for a discussion of research methods in theatre and performance. I revised some notes in my fancy notebook. And then I wondered if my student login would work on the computer I’d inherited with the desk. Huh. Login worked. Looks like a stock Windows 7 install. Better install Chrome. And sync my bookmarks. And grab Putty so I can connect to stuff. And while I’m here, I better check Twitter and update WordPress plugins on my blog. Wait. What? Start > Power > Sleep.

Will the fancy notebook and hipsterific fountain pen make me concentrate and become a Real Thinker™? No. That’s a cargo cult fetishism of tools. But, putting away things that I seem to find difficult to tune out, and shifting to a quiet, solitaire place through a ritual of de-digitalization and picking up a notebook and pen that carry a different kind of energy (and feel, and smell) may be a good start.

27 Sep 03:09

Twitter Favorites: [RichardSP86] For all the Brits, French, Canadians, and Australians feeling a bit high and mighty right now: Farage, Sarkozy, Harper, Abott That is all.

Richard Potter @RichardSP86
For all the Brits, French, Canadians, and Australians feeling a bit high and mighty right now: Farage, Sarkozy, Harper, Abott That is all.
27 Sep 20:57

Pogue’s Basics: Download YouTube videos

Everybody knows that YouTube videos are for streaming, right?
You can’t download one to have on your laptop, to edit or watch on the plane.
Ah … but you can.
You can pay $10 a month to YouTube to get the YouTube Red service —
Or you can use one of many free YouTube downloading sites.
In my experience, they come and go, and they don’t always work —
But lately, I’ve had 100 percent good luck with
Paste in the YouTube address, choose your format, and you’re done.
Just think what you can do with the $10 a month I saved you.
27 Sep 21:12

What Shomi’s closure means for the Canadian streaming market

by Patrick O'Rourke

Shomi may have been a lackluster streaming service in many respects, but regardless of how you feel about the platform’s closure, it’s a monumental hit to cord cutters north of the wall and the Canadian content industry in general.

Rogers’ and Shaw’s streaming platform Shomi, has announced that it’s closing on November 30th, resulting in a $100 million to $140 million write-down on the telecom’s third-quarter as a result of the streaming service’s closure.

“We tried something new, and customers who used Shomi loved it. It’s like a great cult favourite with a fantastic core audience that unfortunately just isn’t big enough to be renewed for another season,” said Melani Griffith, senior vice-president of content for Rogers in a recent statement sent to MobileSyrup.


Rogers and Shaw have never released Shomi’s subscriber numbers, though just a few weeks ago the service touted that it has received 143 million total ‘video plays.’ Toronto-based data tracking firm Solutions Research Group also release a study that indicates Shomi is used in less than four percent of all Canadian households.

Furthermore, the study indicates that even with Shomi and CraveTV’s subscriber numbers combined, both services have fewer than one seventh of Netflix’s total Canadian subscriber numbers (Netflix doesn’t publicly release regional subscriber numbers). Shomi’s senior vice president, however, recently revealed that the service has 900,000 subscribers, though it’s unclear if that number includes just paying subscribers — this is unlikely — or total users. Rogers currently offers free Shomi subscriptions with a number of wireless packages which could inflate this number considerably.

The main question surrounding Shomi’s closure is what happens to the streaming service’s various content rights. The common misconception is that shows like The Americans, Mr. Robot and Modern Family, all Shomi exclusives in Canada, will find a new home on Bell’s CraveTV and maybe even Netflix.

While this could happen in some cases, licensing contracts often include a clause that prevents television shows or movies from being resold to another platform for a specific period of time. Some programming though, specifically Amazon Prime shows that Shomi licensed, like Transparent, will likely find their way onto Roger’s services in some form.


Also, it’s likely that if a show ended up on Shomi, it’s because Netflix and in some cases even CraveTV passed on the content, or because the show’s license holders were not interested in having their content appear on the service. There are also often clauses present in licensing contracts that would prevent Shaw and Rogers from showing content on video on demand platforms other than Shomi, in most cases unless the license holder, which in this case is Rogers, obtains written consent from the content’s owner.

Shomi’s head of content and programming Marni Shulman said that the service typically signs two-year deals with content providers. Since Shomi originally launched back in beta back in November 2014 (the official launch didn’t happen until 2015), most of the deals are expiring somewhat soon. also reported back in August that Shaw was looking for a way out of its co-ownership agreement with Rogers. This could have encouraged Rogers to ditch the service earlier than planned.

It’s also possible that Rogers could fold many of the content rights it currently owns from Shomi into its upcoming IPTV service. In an interview with Alphabeatic’s Peter Nowak, a Rogers spokesperson said, “Those details are still being figured out, so unfortunately I don’t have a comment at the moment.”

Now that Shomi has closed its doors it’s likely that Bell’s CraveTV will soon follow suit now that the telecom no longer needs to maintain the platform to match its rival’s services. Bell, however, claims that it has no plans to close CraveTV.

Regardless of how the closure of Shomi shakes out, the already limited streaming landscape in Canada has fundamentally changed. If a homegrown telecom like Rogers can’t compete with the streaming might of Netflix, it’s likely that U.S.-based services like Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu will be even further deterred from attempting a Canadian launch. Alternatively, Shomi’s closure could be a sign that Rogers’ strategy of using the now dead streaming platform as a way to funnel more subscribers to its other services, isn’t a viable business venture. This could potentially open the door for U.S. streaming services to break into the Canadian market and do it right, though this happening is unlikely.

One thing is for sure, with Shomi bowing out from the competition, piracy is about to get more prevalent in Canada.

27 Sep 21:05

Slack launches partnership with Salesforce to bring customers more integration

by Jessica Vomiero

Slack and Salesforce just announced a partnership that will provide more integration between the two platforms.

According to a post on Slack’s official blog, these integrations will become available over the next month. The statement goes on to say that both platforms have become significant to the professional lives of millions of people around the world.

Users will be able to search Salesforce from Slack, keep Chatter and Slack in synch by using the /chatter and /slack slashes, as well as search salesforce records from conversations in slack.

Users can use the /slack and /chatter slashes to send updates from Slack into Chatter and vice versa. Furthermore, users can also assign a Slack channel to a Salesforce customer record so that anyone working for Salesforce will be able to see when the account is being actively discussed in Slack.

Slack isn’t wrong about its popularity. As of May, 2016, Slack has amassed over three million daily users with two million connected at any given time. Over 930 thousand of those accounts are paid accounts, and all these users make up approximately 60 thousand teams.

Salesforce, on the other hand, is the world’s largest provider of customer relationship management, servicing companies such as ALDO, Bombardier and Telus.

Related: Slack to open Toronto office and create 145 jobs

27 Sep 21:41

Really Bad Traffic

by pricetags

How often have you heard that Vancouver has some of the worst traffic congestion in the world? Yeah, right.

If you spend some time in Bangladesh’s capital, you begin to look anew at the word “traffic,” and to revise your definition. In other cities, there are vehicles and pedestrians on the roads; occasionally, the roads get clogged, and progress is impeded. The situation in Dhaka is different. Dhaka’s traffic is traffic in extremis, a state of chaos so pervasive and permanent that it has become the city’s organizing principle. It’s the weather of the city, a storm that never lets up. …

There are just 60 traffic lights in Dhaka, and they are more or less ornamental; few drivers heed them. The main problem with Dhaka’s anarchic streets, though, is that there aren’t enough. The Daily Star has reported that just 7 percent of Dhaka is covered by roads. (In places like Paris and Barcelona, models of 19th-century urban planning, the number is around 30 percent.) Footpaths are also an issue. There are too few sidewalks in Dhaka, and those that exist are often impassable, occupied by vendors and masses of poor citizens who make their homes in curbside shanties.

dhaka2-master675The usual solution to congestion in cities like Dhaka is to move commuters under the streets rather than over them. But Dhaka has no subway, and no concrete plans to build one. The problem is compounded by the growing status-symbol appeal of private transport: a vogue for automobiles among Dhaka’s middle classes that is adding tens of thousands of new vehicles to the city’s streets every year. …

There is one form of transportation in Dhaka that might be deemed gentle, at least by the city’s hard-as-nails standards. Bicycle rickshaws are the quaintest and most ubiquitous of all the vehicles on Dhaka’s streets. No one is certain about the size of the city’s rickshaw fleet. (Only a fraction of the vehicles are officially licensed.) Most estimates put the number upward of 200,000; some reckon there are several times that many.

Arguing about rickshaws is as big a pastime in Dhaka as riding them. There have been many proposals to ban the machines, but the efforts have always been beaten back. Some contend that rickshaws are the vehicles best-suited to traffic-choked roads, and the most environmentally friendly. Others say that they are inefficient, that four rickshaws rolling abreast on a Dhaka street take up the square footage of a bus while transporting just eight passengers. …

I knew, of course, that it was unseemly for a visitor from one of the world’s richest cities to aestheticize the chaos and dysfunction of one of its poorest. Traffic in Dhaka is not just a nuisance. It is poverty, it’s injustice, it’s suffering.

Yet nearly everyone I met in Dhaka spoke of the traffic as a trial by fire, a test of mettle, a horror that is also a perverse source of pride. One woman, a lifelong Dhaka resident, told me she “missed the jams” when she lived abroad: In the big cities of Europe and America, the relative lack of congestion unnerved her. When you make it through a day in Dhaka, when you make it across a snarled intersection, you have triumphed against the odds, and over the gods. The town puts you in a philosophical frame of mind. Dhaka teaches that travel is hell, but it also reminds you of the primitive wonder of travel, the truth that, to complete any journey, no matter how quotidian, is to conquer space, and — depending just how awful the congestion is on the Mirpur Road — to subdue time.


27 Sep 16:07

Snap SpectaclesIf you want to appeal to a segment beyond the...

Snap Spectacles

If you want to appeal to a segment beyond the technologists, you have to be able to appeal to the aesthetic. – Steve Horowitz, head of hardware at Snap.

One of the many ways that Google screwed up with Google Glass. They were deeply uncool.

27 Sep 00:00

Still Playing "No Man’s Sky"


Tom Bray, Ongoing, Sept 27, 2016

I spend more time over the weekend playing No Man's Sky, doing so apparently in defiance of  the hate being expressed by so many critics and gamers. But  look at the panels (like the one pictured; can you believe this?) - they come from one demographic, one point of view, and expect one set of things from a game. They want a storyline, an opponent, an outcome. Maybe there will be one one day but that's not what No Man's Sky is promising. What I like is that you can do things like  walk completely around the planet. It takes weeks. As Tim Bray says, "this game is a huge plat­ form with lots of room to drop in new con­ tent and game-play and sur­ pris­ es." Yes, in many ways it's not a finished product. I'm actually OK with that. Because I hate the games that are defined by an storyline, an opponent, and an outcome. My world (of gaming, and of learning) is much bigger than that.

[Link] [Comment]
27 Sep 20:29

Item from Ian: London and Gentrification

by pricetags

From The Guardian:


The bubble that turned into a tide: how London got hooked on gentrification

Earlier this month the Financial Times ran an article, as every newspaper has done many times before, headlined “Has London’s property price bubble burst?” The report was well researched and judicious, as you would expect. The conclusion, roughly, was “Probably not, but you never know”, which is all one can ever say safely. The only problem was the word “bubble”. …

It has become an entirely different phenomenon: a ceaselessly rising tide, occasionally drawing back after one wave breaks, but only to regather force for the next, even stronger, surge. This tide has not lifted all boats, but it has lifted a great many: metropolitan middle-class members of the baby-boom generation in particular, but others too. (Some have of course been drowned, but there you go.) …

The outlines of this phenomenon have become so familiar that only rarely does anyone stand back and consider quite how astonishing it all is, and the extent to which the consequences have permeated every aspect of British life.

Three years ago, the London-based American journalist Michael Goldfarb did stand back, for an op-ed column in the New York Times, which went viral, pointing out something that had not then been widely understood: how the most expensive London homes had ceased to be places to live and had become a store of global money. “Almost nothing has changed,” says Goldfarb now, “except that all the stresses in the system have got deeper. It will take an epochal catastrophe – like the great depression followed by a war – to allow ordinary people to get into the housing market. But no one will say this. It will be a London without Londoners.

“The one thing that has changed is that people will now rent rather than buy. But has there been anything done to protect tenants? Nothing. None of that conversation is being had, and it’s shocking.” …

There are also strange sub-phenomena now taking place, designed to keep the mad times rolling. Parents are sinking their profits back into the market to help their children into the game. Well-off baby-boomer provincials are downsizing and moving to London to be near their children. Old houses that were subdivided into flats decades ago are now being undivided again, further reducing the stock of homes. …

Variations on the theme are happening across London. Even a decade ago, transport zones 1 and 2 were full of areas whose very name would make one’s mother faint. (“You’re going to live in Hoxton?!”) Now the respectability-map is being infilled.



27 Sep 16:20

Snapchat Spectacles and the Future of Wearables

by Ben Thompson

When it comes to the future, the tricky part is less the “what” than it is the “how.” For example:


This is the Simon. It was a handheld phone with a touchscreen that could run 3rd party apps. IBM introduced it in 1992 before the world wide web even existed. It sent faxes.

I highlight faxing not to mock (mostly); rather, its inclusion gets to a fundamental reason why it took a full fifteen years for smartphones to truly take off: new categories not only need workable and affordable technology, but also ecosystems to latch onto and established use cases to satisfy.

Think about everything that happened between 1992 and 2007 that, at least at first glance, didn’t seem to have anything to do with smartphones:

  • The personal computer moved out of the office and into the home
  • The world wide web was invented and an entire ecosystem was built from scratch
  • Personal electronics proliferated: while by 1992 most people had or used calculators and Walkmans, the 90s saw the introduction of PDAs and digital cameras; the 00s brought handheld GPS devices and digital music players

The reason why we consider 2007 as the start of the smartphone era is that while there were plenty of smartphones released before then (most notably Nokia/Symbian in 1996, and Blackberry and Windows Mobile in 2003), it was the iPhone that, thanks to its breakthrough user interface and ahead-of-its-time hardware, was able to take advantage of all these developments.

Think back to this slide:


Note that none of these features existed in a vacuum:

  • Telecom providers had been building out cellular networks for two decades, and mobile phones were well-established
  • iPods were hugely popular, with a well-established use case, as were the other personal electronic devices that first offered much of the iPhone’s other functionality (the aforementioned calculators, PDAs, digital cameras, and GPS devices)
  • The web had already developed into an entire universe of information that was accessible through a browser

A year later, Apple added the App Store that made it possible for the iPhone to add on all of the various computing capabilities that it was lacking; the result was a single device built on top of everything that came before:


The critical point is this: even had it been technologically possible, the iPhone wouldn’t have been, well, the iPhone had the use cases it enabled and ecosystem it plugged into not been established first.

Wearables That Fail

Late last week Snap, the company formerly named after its original Snapchat app, somewhat unexpectedly unveiled a wearable:1


The Spectacles, as they are known, are sunglasses with a pair of cameras: tap the side and it will record a ten-second snippet of video.

Of course Snapchat isn’t the first company to release video-recording glasses: back in 2013 Google released Google Glass:


Glass was a failure for all the obvious reasons: they were extremely expensive and hard to use, and they were ugly not just aesthetically but also in their ignorance of societal conventions. These problems, though, paled in the face of a much more fundamental issue: what was the point?

Oh sure, the theoretical utility of Glass was easy to articulate: see information on the go, easily capture interesting events without pulling out your phone, and ask and answer questions without fumbling around with a touch screen. The issue with the theory was the same one that plagued initial smartphones: none of these use cases were established, and there was no ecosystem to plug into.

A similar critique could be leveled at Apple’s initial take on the Watch. While the hardware was far more attractive than the Glass, and no one was offended by the prospect of wearing, well, a watch, what was most striking about the announcement was the absence of a rationale: what was the use case, and where was the ecosystem?

This lack of focus led to a device that probably shouldn’t have been launched when it was: because Apple didn’t know what the Watch should be used for it was larded up with an overly complicated user interface and an SDK that resulted in apps so slow that they were unusable; Apple was so eager for 3rd-party developers to solve its missing use case that the company destroyed the user experience that was their hallmark.

Wearables That Work

Contrast the first Apple Watch with the one that was unveiled last month: not only was the hardware improved with a faster processor, water-proofing, and GPS, but more importantly the use case was made very clear. Just look at the introductory video:

This video has 47 separate “shots”; 35 of them are health-and-fitness related (and that doesn’t count walking or breathing, both of which fit in a broader “wellness” categorization). The rest of the introduction followed the same theme, as did the product’s flagship partner: Nike. Finally the message was clear: Apple Watch was for health and fitness.

Now can an Apple Watch do so much more than health and fitness? Absolutely. But those new use cases — things like notifications, or Apple Pay, or controlling your smart home, all of which are relatively new use cases2 — now have an umbrella to develop under.

This focus also defines the Watch’s most obvious competitor: Fitbit. While the Watch may be far more capable than most Fitbit devices, both are competing for the same spot on the wrist, and both are positioned to do the same job.

What is interesting about Fitbit is that from a product development perspective it is the spiritual heir of Apple’s own iPod: it started out as a purposeful appendage to a computer that did one clearly defined thing — count steps. True, this was a new use case, but the original Fitbits in particular avoided all of the other problems with wearables: it was unobtrusive yet unique, and very easy to understand. It also laid the groundwork for the line expansion that has followed: once the use case was established Fitbit could create trackers that overcame challenges like wearing a strange device on your wrist or costing more than $100.

Apple’s introduction of its second wearable — AirPods — was also well done.3 The use case couldn’t be more obvious: they are wireless headphones for the headphone jack-less iPhone 7. You can’t get more clear than that! And yet the potential is quite obviously so much greater: as I noted two weeks ago the AirPods in conjunction with the Apple Watch are forming the outlines of a future Beyond the iPhone.

The Wearables Future

There’s that word I opened with: “future”. As awesome as our smartphones are, it seems unlikely that this is the end of computing. Keep in mind that one of the reasons all those pre-iPhone smartphone initiatives failed, particularly Microsoft’s, is that their creators could not imagine that there might be a device more central to our lives than the PC. Yet here we are in a world where PCs are best understood as optional smartphone accessories.

I suspect we will one day view our phones the same way: incredibly useful devices that can do many tasks better than anything else, but not ones that are central for the simple reason that they will not need to be with us all of the time. After all, we will have our wearables.

To be clear, that future is not here, and it’s probably not that close.4 That doesn’t mean these intervening years — and these intervening products — don’t matter though. Now is the time to build out the use cases and ecosystem that make wearables products the market demands, not simply technology made for geeks who don’t give a damn about social conventions — or how they look.


Snapchat is Not Google Glass

To be fair, this wasn’t the official product image for Google Glass, although it quickly became the most famous.5 Certainly that was because of who was in it — Marc Andreessen, Bill Maris, and John Doerr are three of the most famous venture capitalists in the industry — but it also so perfectly captured what Google Glass seemed to represent: Silicon Valley’s insistence that its technology would change your life whether you wanted it to or not, for no other reason than the fact it existed.

Needless to say, the contrast with what already feel like iconic pictures for the Snap Spectacles could not be more profound:6


With the caveat that no one has actually used these things — and that manufacturing physical products at scale is a lot more difficult than it looks — I suspect the outcome for Spectacles will be quite different from Glass as well. For one, they look so much better than Glass, and they are an order of magnitude cheaper ($130).

Much more significantly, though, Spectacles have the critical ecosystem and use case components in place: Snapchat has over 150 million daily active users sending over a billion snaps a day and watching an incredible 10 billion videos. All of them are exclusive to Snapchat. Making it easier to add videos — memories, according to Spiegel (and I’m sure it’s not an accident that Snapchat recently added a feature called exactly that) — is not so much strange as it is an obvious step on Snapchat’s Ladder.

Snapchat Versus Apple

Obvious. That’s another word I already used, in the context of Apple’s AirPods, and what is perhaps the most fascinating implication of Spectacles is what it says about the potential of a long-term rivalry between Snapchat and Apple. Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel has said that Snap née Snapchat is a camera company, not a social network. Or, perhaps more accurately, the company is both: it is a fully contained ecosystem that is more perfectly optimized to the continual creation and circulation of content than even Facebook.7 What matters from Apple’s perspective is that Snapchat, like Facebook or WeChat or other apps that users live in, is one layer closer to their customers. For now that is not a threat — you still need an actual device to run those apps — but then again most people used Google on Windows, which made Microsoft a lot of money even as it froze them out of the future.

This is exactly why Apple is right to push forward into the wearable space even though it is an area, thanks to the important role of services like Siri, in which they have less of an advantage. Modern moats are not about controlling distribution but about owning consumer touch points — in the case of wearables, quite literally.

To be clear, I am peering into a very hazy future; for one thing Snapchat still has to build an actual business on top of that awesome engagement, although I think the company’s prospects are bright. And it goes without saying that the technology still matters: chips need to get faster (a massive Apple advantage), batteries need to improve (also an Apple specialty), and everything needs to get smaller. This, though, is the exact path taken by every piece of hardware since the advent of the industry. They are hard problems, but they are known problems, which is why smart engineers solve them. What is more difficult to appreciate is that creating a market for that smart technology takes an even more considered approach, and right now it’s difficult to imagine a better practitioner than the one on Venice Beach, far from Silicon Valley.

  1. I discussed the odd timing of the announcement in yesterday’s Daily Update
  2. Notifications obviously isn’t that new; relatedly, it’s one of the most compelling non—fitness-related reasons to buy the Watch
  3. Except for the fact that it’s not yet available
  4. If we follow the iPod timeline (the accessory that led to the iPhone), then we’re looking at 2020 or 2021, presuming the Watch is the next centerpiece, and that’s for the minimum viable product
  5. I couldn’t ascertain what pictures were on the Google Glass page as Google has excluded it from the Internet Archive
  6. And note the gender ratio
  7. Facebook’s status as user’s public profile inhibits sharing; that is why the company is more dependent on 3rd-party content than most realize
27 Sep 06:07

A Rare Tour Of Microsoft’s Hyperscale Datacenters

by Rui Carmo

I’ve been to one of the data centers (prior to joining Microsoft, actually) and it’s a sobering tour — even more so when you consider the investments involved.

27 Sep 13:44

RTAndroid for Raspberry Pi 3

by Rui Carmo

I haven’t tried this yet (will have to wait until the weekend), but having a decent Android distribution for the Raspberry Pi has been a long, largely fruitless quest of mine, and I’m positive I’m not alone.

And if it comes with a properly tuned, real-time kernel, then that’s just icing on the cake, really…

27 Sep 15:00

Ohrn Image — Buildings With Colour

by Ken Ohrn

. . .  plus an urban forest. And, sure, black is a colour.


27 Sep 15:00

My great grandfather wins my aunt an election

by tychay

From my aunt’s e-mail thread.

I found a photo of great grandfather and grandmother Ree

Great Grandfather and Grandmother Ree.jpg
Great Grandfather and Grandmother Ree

Aunt Tamaye:

FYI we used the picture of our grandfather for your Aunt Geeya’s high school VP campaign poster.  Underneath his picture appeared a message: ‘Confucius says: Vote for Joan Ree!’  


Lol, Mom used to tell us the story as: you passed out fortune cookies to entire class that had, as the fortune, “Confucius say: Vote for Joan!”

She also said you won. 😀

Aunt Gia:

It’s so good to hear from you. I thought I’d never get a message from my wonderful genius nephew. Did your mom tell you that my high school at that time wouldn’t let a girl run for the president of student body? It was boy for President, girl for VP, boy for Treasurer, girl for Secretary. Quite chauvinist Catholic high school.

Grandma saved a page from my high school newspaper, the Judegeonian. It is an article written about the winners of 1963-1964  student body officers. From the article, we girls running for officers had to go to the 2nd day to have clear majority, which I don’t recall. Ancient history for younger members of the family.

_The Judgeonian_, 1963

Cousin Alex:

I remember you and auntie talking about a runoff I think or winning by just a couple votes. And damn mom, if they didn’t vote for you based on talent, they definitely voted for you based on looks, which probably helped counter the anti-asian voting bloc a.k.a today’s Trump voters.

Cousin Tammy:

Wow look at you mom!

Cousin Alex:

What’s sodality, pep club, and grail club?


A pep club is a group responsible for pep rallies. Not sure the other two, but it’s probably related to Judge Memorial being a Catholic school.

I remember once in college, I met a classmate who said he was from Salt Lake City.

I said, “My mom’s from there.”

“Oh really? What high school did she go to.”

“Oh, you probably haven’t heard of it…something called ‘The Judge?!'”

“The Catholic school in Mormon country? Everyone has heard of Judge Memorial.”

Aunt Tamaya:

Hey, Terry.  I’ve caught you lurking there. 


Actually a very good friend of mine from college also went to Judge Memorial as did his brother.  His grandfather on his mother’s side was a professor at Utah in a science field (forget which one).  His father left the Mormon church since he didn’t believe in their teachings.  We used to joke that Judge Memorial was where all the misfits (non-Mormons) and troublemakers (excommunicated Mormons) went.

Cousin Tammy:

Yea I think I remember mom saying that it was the only Catholic High School in Mormon Territory.  So it stood out. 

Uncle Francis:

I knew that you would be elected before the election because of Confucius said so. Thanks for our late dad and ma, who spent hours helping to put the Confucius stickers in the fortune cookies. Lo, I wonder why the Catholic school allowed such Confucian fortune cookies. Moreover, why didn’t you convert to Confucianism?

(That side of the family is one of the oldest Korean Catholic families.)

Aunt Gia:

Wow this is thrilling, I got Terry to write us again. Hiya, Terry. it’s so good to hear from you. Ken also sent me an email yesterday but Ken responds more frequently. We miss seeing both of you very much. I still remember your mom, “Apchang”, when my high school graduation ceremony ended. She came running to me and gave a big excited hug because I saved the family from utter, excruciating disgrace. There were numerous awards handed out, even to beauty schools, and none was for Gia. Terrible, horrible embarrassment to the Ree name! And she was thinking how come Gia couldn’t even get one to be a beautician? Then finally they announced the last, most prestigious award for the most outstanding senior girl and it was for her little sister! So I retained Ree family membership.

Thank you, next generation, for taking me down memory lane.

Thank you, Auntie Gia, for sharing stories and photos of my family. 🙂

27 Sep 15:30

Are Traffic Circles Safer?

by Sandy James Planner


It is the French  as reported in The Economist that in the early 1900’s came out with the carrefour giratoire, the precursor to the modern traffic circle. When installed in Paris, traffic circles require circulating traffic in the traffic circle to give way or priority to car traffic coming from the right.

If you have driven in France in the last ten years, you will have seen a proliferation of traffic circles, with estimates of 30,000 existing and a further 500 annually installed. Why? Because of road safety. The graph below shows the USA with the greatest number of road fatalities and the smallest amount of roundabouts.


As the Economist article states, In America, for instance, which has a mere 4,800 roundabouts, a quarter of all road deaths take place at intersections. America’s Federal Highway Administration, which helpfully supplies a “roundabouts outreach and education toolbox” to overcome public distrust, says that they reduce deaths or serious injuries by around 80%, compared with stop signs or traffic lights” 

There are some challenges with traffic circles, especially in the safe and efficient design for pedestrians to cross at well delineated places. Traffic circles also require a lot of land when there are two or three lanes of traffic in the circle.  They do however lend themselves to great art installations and plantings, and these have multiplied in France with the rise of local authority spending. In addition, the traffic circle has become worthy of architectural analysis:

“The roundabout has accompanied the development of the fluid society,” suggests Laurent Devisme, of the National Architecture School in Nantes. Like modern life, it requires “judgment, anticipation and commitment”. 

Perhaps the traffic circle is one of the  last hurrahs of motordom, celebrated as a place people go through and to but never linger in. Could improved intersection design, greater visibility, and slower vehicular speeds accomplish the same and allow for better walkability and livability?

27 Sep 15:30

That street LED lighting may not be that good for you

by Sandy James Planner


Just as we are head towards the dark months of the year, this article from the Washington Post provides background on the American Medical Association’s warning that streetlights — such as those in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Houston and elsewhere — emit unseen blue light that can disturb sleep rhythms and possibly increase the risk of serious health conditions, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. The AMA also cautioned that those light-emitting-diode lights can impair nighttime driving vision.

Everyone is on the LED bandwagon, including the street lighting in many metro municipalities. The City of Surrey  is spending 11 million dollars on upgrading street lighting to LED, with an expected energy savings of 1 million dollars a year. Surrey will be one of the first municipalities to be completely converted to this new light technology.

Know to be cost efficient these lights last 15 to 20 years, not two to five like the previous high-pressure sodium street lamps, and the light is spread more evenly. New York City has responded by using a bulb with less intensity for street lighting intensity bulb that the AMA considers safe.

There was an early Federal push in the USA to adapt to and use LED lighting, and it appears the higher intensity of these earlier lights are the problem. Lighting is measured by color temperature, which is expressed in “kelvin,” or “K.” The original LED streetlights had temperatures of at least 4000K, which produces a bright white light with a high content of unseen blue light.

Now, LEDs are available with lower kelvin ratings and roughly the same energy efficiency as those with higher ratings. They don’t emit as much potentially harmful blue light, and they produce a softer amber hue.


Researchers have indicated that blue-rich outdoor lights may decrease the hormone melatonin which balances sleep and regulated the body’s circadian rhythm of  the sleep and awake cycle. Researchers note that the real challenge may be that humans have not evolved to see light at night. The AMA also expressed concern on the impact of this light on wildlife, animals and birds.

It’s an example of the early adoption and embracing of a new technological improvement without rigorous testing of potential health impacts on human as well as other animal and bird life.

27 Sep 14:30

"For more than a decade, we’ve been studying dozens of organisations such as this management..."

For more than a decade, we’ve been studying dozens of organisations such as this management consultancy, employing people with high IQs and impressive educations. We have spoken with hundreds of people working for engineering firms, government departments, universities, banks, the media and pharmaceutical companies. We started out thinking it is likely to be the smartest who got ahead. But we discovered this wasn’t the case.

Organisations hire smart people, but then positively encourage them not to use their intelligence. Asking difficult questions or thinking in greater depth is seen as a dangerous waste. Talented employees quickly learn to use their significant intellectual gifts only in the most narrow and myopic ways.

Those who learn how to switch off their brains are rewarded. By avoiding thinking too much, they are able to focus on getting things done. Escaping the kind of uncomfortable questions that thinking brings to light also allows employees to side-step conflict with co-workers. By toeing the corporate line, thoughtless employees get seen as ‘leadership material’ and promoted. Smart people quickly learn that getting ahead means switching off their brains as soon as they step into the office.

We found many ways that all kinds of organisations positively encouraged intelligent people not to fully use their intelligence. There were rules and routines that prompted them to focus energies on complying with bureaucracy instead of doing their jobs. There were doctors who spent more time ‘playing the tick-box game’ than actually caring for patients; teachers who spent more time negotiating new bureaucratic procedures than teaching children. We met Hans, a manager in a local government agency: after a visit from a regulator, his office received a list of 25 issues in need of improvement. So Hans’s agency developed 25 new policies and procedures. The result: the regulator was happy, but there was no change in actual practice. Such stories showed us how mindless compliance with rules and regulations can detract people from actually doing their jobs. The doctors, teachers and government officials all knew that the rules and regulations they spent their days complying with were pointless diversions. However, they chose not to think about this too much. Instead, they just got on with ticking the boxes.

Another significant source of stupidity in firms we came across was a deep faith in leadership. In most organisations today, senior executives are not content with just being managers. They want to be leaders. They see their role as not just running their business but also transforming their followers. They talk about ‘vision’, ‘belief’ and ‘authenticity’ with great verve. All this sounds like our office buildings are brimming with would-be Nelson Mandelas. However, when you take a closer look at what these self-declared leaders spend their days doing, the story is quite different.

No matter how hard you search there is little – if any – leadership to be found. What most executives actually spend their days doing is sitting in meetings, filling in forms and communicating information. In other words, they are bureaucrats. But being a bureaucrat is not particularly exciting. It also doesn’t look very good on your business card. To make their roles seem more important and exciting than they actually are, corporate executives become leadership addicts. They read leadership books. They give lengthy talks to yawning subordinates about leadership. But most importantly they attend many courses, seminars and meetings with ‘leadership’ somewhere in the title. The content of many of these leadership-development courses would not be out of place in a kindergarten or a New Age commune. There are leadership-development courses where participants are asked to lead a horse around a yard, use colouring-in books, or build Lego – all in the name of developing them as leaders.

At least $14 billion gets spent every year on leadership development in the US alone yet, according to researchers such as Jeffrey Pfeffer at Stanford, it has virtually no impact on improving the quality of leaders. In our own research, we found that most employees in knowledge-intensive firms didn’t need much leadership. People working at the coalface were self-motivated and often knew their jobs much better than their bosses did. Their superiors’ cack-handed attempts to be leaders were often seen as a pointless distraction from the real work. George, a manager in a high-tech engineering firm, told us he saw himself as a very ‘open’. When we asked his subordinates what he actually did, they told us that he provides breakfast in the morning and runs an annual beer-tasting.


Andre Spicer, You don’t have to be stupid to work here, but it helps

Followerism and Leaderism, the Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum of Ism’s.

See Pfeffer’s work, for more on leaderism.

27 Sep 15:42

Amazon opens new office in Ottawa but still no word on Canadian Echo launch

by Jessica Vomiero

Amazon’s machine learning dreams may just be realized in its brand new Ottawa-based office.

This past August, Amazon opened up an office in Canada’s capital that was rumoured to have a huge hiring budget. Reports indicate that Amazon’s Ottawa employees will be working on Alexa, the AI assistant that powers Amazon’s voice-activated Bluetooth speaker, Echo.

The Ottawa Business Journal reports that software developer Francois Boisvert will be heading up the local team. He reveals that he’ll be hiring several individuals in the fields of mobile development and mobile developers “voice-over-IP and real-time communication.” Furthermore, he says that he’ll be hiring in spades.

Amazon opened its Toronto office in the summer of 2015. What started as a division run by a handful of people grew into an operation that employed hundreds.

Reasons for the Canadian expansion haven’t been revealed, though Boisvert hinted to OBJ that there’s less competition for talent in Canada than there is in American cities.

Despite Amazon expanding its development team in Canada, Boisvert couldn’t confirm that Amazon’s Echo would be available in Canada as well. While bringing the Echo to Canada is reportedly “in the works,” no timelines have been announced yet.

Currently, Amazon operates three offices out of Canada – in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.

Related: Amazon job postings hint that Canadian echo launch might be coming

27 Sep 16:00

Living In the West End

by Ken Ohrn

After living now for a year in the West End of Vancouver, I have moved from liking it (a lot) to loving it. Things are close — we can walk in minutes to groceries, veg stores, Post Office, UPS office, opticians, shoe repair, Nordstrom, the Dollar Store, a gelato place, bakery, bank, hardware store, parks, beaches, malls.

We keep bumping into friends.

And, oh my, restaurants.   We half-jokingly say that we could eat out every night for a year at a different one by going west on Davie, down Denman, then Robson then back home along Davie.  By the time we got all the way around, half the restaurants would have changed, so we could pretty much start over again.

But there’s a human dimension to the West End.  People — every shade of every variety of every demographic. Age, size, hipster quotient, language, local, tourist:  any dimension you can think of.  And it’s a lively and welcome contrast to the human emptiness of our old ‘hood near UBC.

But sometimes it’s just a small thing that is unique and touching.  Funny and sad at the same time.

Here’s the “Wish Tree”.  It’s a California Lilac, located on Jervis, between Harwood and Burnaby. People write a wish on a tag, and hang it on the tree. There are hundreds, some so faded they can’t be read.  Some silly, some wild, and one that brought me to a standstill, and left me close to tears with the simplicity and power of the wish.

wish-tree-1 I pray that my family would accept me soon I wish that forever is as good as this far has been with her. And that some day she says yes. To the love of my life. And I wish that if the guy who wished to find a bag full of money finds it, he will share it with me! wish-tree-4 wish-tree-5 I wish I had a British accent
26 Sep 12:00

Is your career about duty or pleasure?

by Josh Bernoff

Why do you work? To make money? Or because you’re doing something that you love? Not all of us get to do work that we love. If we’re lucky, we don’t do work that we hate. Here’s my idea of what you should do to move your career forward. Take a job that pays enough … Continued

The post Is your career about duty or pleasure? appeared first on without bullshit.

27 Sep 13:34

Donald Trump’s debate ramble was like an Abbott and Costello routine

by Josh Bernoff

I try to be balanced. But I admit that I am biased in favor of candidates who are coherent. By the end of last night’s debate, there was only one of those left on the stage. Donald Trump sounded like a conspiracy nut on speed. Because I analyze writing, I won’t talk about who “looked presidential.” … Continued

The post Donald Trump’s debate ramble was like an Abbott and Costello routine appeared first on without bullshit.

27 Sep 17:42

Mapping Organizational Realities

by Venkatesh Rao

I have another video blog for you today: a salon-style conversation on mapping the external and internal realities of organizations. It’s about an hour and fifteen minutes, and significant portions involve non-trivial visuals, so you may want to grab a drink or your lunch, lean back, and watch like it’s a TV show, rather than listening like it’s a podcast.

My guests are Simon Wardley, whom I met back in 2012 on a gig with the Leading Edge Forum, where he is a researcher, and Dave Gray, whom I met at the LIFT conference in Geneva in 2013, where we were both speakers. Since this is my first true video blog, I don’t yet have a transcription workflow. But I do have some brief show notes below.

Show Notes

Simon has developed, over the last decade, a very interesting mapping technique called Wardley Maps (slowly turning into a book on Medium), which are a way of visually modeling and mapping the context an organization operates in. Dave has written a number of books, most recently Liminal Thinking and The Connected Companyand among the things his consulting firm XPLANE does is reduce some of the thinking in the books to practice using a tool for culture mapping.

I figured it would be interesting to chat with Simon and Dave at the same time and explore the connections between mapping external versus internal realities. I am not much of a process person myself, but I often cobble together bits and pieces from people who do enjoy inventing processes in my own consulting gigs. So I’m constantly, if lazily, scanning for interesting new tools that I can then appropriate and abuse for my own needs.

This conversation came about thanks to a tweet by one of the earliest guest bloggers on ribbonfarm, Marigo Raftapolous who contributed a post on enterprise games back in 2008 before gamification of enterprises was cool. Funny how these things come together. Curiously, all four of us are consultants, so this is also a glimpse into how we consultants talk, think, and network when there are no clients around.

In terms of content, in a meandering, discursive conversation (what else do you expect from a salon moderated by me?) we touch upon:

  1. The mapping techniques used by Simon and Dave in their work
  2. Boydian thinking, OODA loops, orientations etc
  3. Comparisons between military and business cultures
  4. The problems with thinking of company culture as a single thing rather than a collection of distinct subcultures
  5. The pathology of thinking about culture as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ as opposed to just a matter of ‘fit’ with the environment
  6. The role played by time, and how different cultures grow at different speeds
  7. How organizational evolution in relation to the market affects its position and play externally…
  8. … and its culture internally
  9. The idea of wartime and peacetime CEOs
  10. How Amazon is a great model for nearly all these ideas at their best

Apologies for any rough edges in the video production quality. I’m kinda new to this particular game.

27 Sep 17:30

Galaxy S7 Edge, six months later

by Ted Kritsonis

In 2016, Samsung made it clear it likes curves so much, it will basically bend its displays wherever it can. The Galaxy S7 Edge was the phone to set the tone early this year, and its unveiling at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona signaled a commitment to continue being edgy.

For a company that can be persistent in pushing its various visions to see what ultimately sticks, the curvy strategy appears to be a winner. In what ways is sometimes unclear, anecdotally speaking, since there are no real metrics measuring engagement, only sales figures to indicate the device’s popularity.

The Galaxy S7 Edge reared back into the spotlight — at least somewhat — because of the Galaxy Note 7 recall. Anytime one of your flagship handsets is considered unexploded ordinance and called out singularly on an airplane before takeoff, you have a public relations nightmare. These days, only Samsung and Apple (Bendgate, et al) could emerge from such a fiasco more or less unscathed. Time will tell.

No such issues have afflicted the S7 Edge, which continues to hum along as the ‘safe’ bet for Samsung and consumers who may prefer the device’s form factor.

The device


I’ve had a lot of time with the S7 Edge since it launched in Canada in March, and I took it as an opportunity to let the edged display grow on me, if it could. I like curves as much as the next guy, but the practicality of the edged display and the interface it harbours has always left me feeling like something is missing.

With the Galaxy S6 Edge last year, that missing element was obvious — the interface did next to nothing of any intrinsic value. Samsung poured much more into it this year, offering numerous shortcuts and contextual information, which I’ll get to a little further down.

What truly helped the company’s standing with this device was what could be viewed as a corrective approach; one that brought back the microSD card slot and water-resistance that was abandoned last year.

It also slightly curved the back edges, contouring the device on both sides for better handling. The glass back remained the same fingerprint magnet it has always been. Curiously, though, white and blue were abandoned in Canada, with black, silver and gold the preferred options instead.

With Samsung choosing to harmonize the chipset with the Note 7 by using the same Snapdragon 820 in both Canada and the United States, the S7 Edge was the opposite. Only the U.S. variant had Qualcomm’s chip, whereas all others used Samsung’s own Exynos 8890 octa-core processor. Whether there was a significant difference in performance wasn’t patently obvious to me.

Then there was the camera. A less protruding lens certainly helped, but it was the internals that were to make a difference. With a wide f/1.7 aperture lens and superb image sensor that included larger micron pixels, the S7 Edge was poised to become one of the shooters to beat. It has earned its keep in my books, offering some of the best composition I’ve seen in Auto mode to date.

The software

gs7 edge software.jpg

Samsung has wisely chosen to continue the process of dialing back its previous software excess and gimmicky nonsense, and focus on lessening TouchWiz’s impact on Android to make navigation that much easier. The settings probably benefit the most from that because the layout is simpler (though I prefer how it was done on the Note 7), save for the visual elements that make it appear different.

Of course, that wasn’t really the focus here. The edge interface was, and by stripping down on the other side, it rained an abundance of features to the edge to make it more of a general usability go-to. For me, at least, this required self-training and the will to try it, even when it didn’t seem necessary or prudent to do so.

That’s generally not a good start for any piece of software, but it isn’t even the biggest issue. Third-party support, or lack thereof, has been the gaping hole that keeps this interface from turning a corner to become something indispensable. Much of what’s available is driven by Samsung and its partnerships. There’s a decent level of choice, yet the pickings are still slim.

Take the Tasks Edge screen, for instance. In theory, it’s a sound idea — create shortcuts to specific app functions. Except, in practice, it’s limited to core apps and little else. The lack of support from others could be rationalized for any company that isn’t Samsung, but when you’re at the top of the heap, it’s logical to assume developers would want to play ball. Any sort of grace period for that is effectively over after six months on the market. Where are the cool task shortcuts for apps like Sonos, Gmail, Spotify or Instagram?

Instead, it’s the Edge Panels that make up most of the outside support, where some developers have been offering their own apps specifically tailored to the interface. Most cost something, ranging in price from $1 to $2, and include panels specific to popular apps, like WhatsApp, Spotify, SoundCloud, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Netflix and TuneIn. It’s nice to see tools like these emerge, though it’s not clear how well they’re selling or how many are using them.

The always-on display that was first seen in Motorola’s devices, was on by default, displaying the date, battery level, time, and basic notification icons in plain white text on the black display. A low-powered way to constantly have contextual information at hand, I found it to be useful enough to never turn it off. It just would’ve been nice if more context could be added to the notifications with a simple tap.

The camera


The 12 megapixels rear camera would have seemed like a step backward with a lower megapixel count, but the truth was that this turned out to be a noticeable upgrade in many ways. Larger micron pixels and a wider f/1.7 aperture lens were a big one-two punch in letting in more light for better images in low-night and night situations. I’m a bigger fan of the Pro mode for the manual controls, but there are few smartphone cameras I’ve tested that can shoot this well in a variety of settings in Auto mode. In Pro mode, it only gets better.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that it takes seconds to launch the camera, focus on a subject and snap a photo. Double-pressing the home button launches it in only 0.7 seconds. Fast focusing seems almost immediate, and snapping a photo can be done with the camera icon or by pressing either of the volume buttons.

At the time of its launch, the S7 Edge obliterated the iPhone 6s in low-light performance. Now, with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus having answered back, the fight has gotten more interesting. To me, the LG G4 was the best overall camera of 2015, but the S7 Edge has earned that crown so far, especially in Auto mode. Competition is fierce, though. The LG G5, HTC 10 and even some other emerging phones stepped up this year, and Apple is only the latest to do so.

The fact that the flat Galaxy S7 and Note 7 use the exact same camera means the performance of the S7 Edge is not exclusive to this one device. That’s all good for synergy from Samsung’s perspective, but it doesn’t make the camera the most distinctive feature here. That goes to the edged display.

As it stands…

updated gs7

There’s an irony about the S7 Edge in that it is probably more popular than its flatter sibling, yet is much harder to find a good case or screen protector for it. The curved glass already makes it more delicate. Forget a long drop shattering the screen, a short one of less than a two feet on a hard surface is enough to crack it. That goes for the back of the device, too.

Fast Charging and wireless charging help lessen the impact of the battery drain, which is nice when dealing with a 3600mAh non-removable battery inside. Even six months later, the device can last for a full day, though standby life has taken a hit along the way. I could leave the phone alone for two days and it will be completely dead. Why, I’m not sure, because there shouldn’t be anything going on in the background.

Not that I’m shocked. One of Samsung’s shortcomings is that its batteries don’t always hold up extremely well over time when usage is regularly above moderate. I’ve generally found iPhones do a better job, though Apple does have the advantage of optimizing its own operating system and hardware.

For Samsung, this phone is part of a wider ecosystem it wants consumers to embrace. The new Gear VR headset is compatible with the S7 Edge, thanks to an adapter that works with the microUSB port. The S7 Edge works just fine with the  camera, as it does with the Gear Fit2, Gear IconX and Gear S3 smartwatch.

At the time of launch, the S7 Edge was $1,100 outright. Today, it’s about $100 less through the carriers. Even on two-year contracts, the device is regularly $400 or more. Samsung is now selling it outright and unlocked for $850. By the time its successor comes next spring, headphone jacks may continue to disappear and USB-C could be further cemented as the next industry standard, making the S7 Edge feel older than it really is.

Related: Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge review: An act of refinement

27 Sep 13:25

Experience Death in an Endlessly Mutating Video Labyrinth

by Kevin Holmes for The Creators Project

Pattern Language. Image courtesy of the artist

Video game dungeons, architecture, and flashing pixels all inform artist Peter Burr's new exhibition Pattern Language, named after architect Christopher Alexander's design method which Burr explains as "describing the aliveness of certain human ambitions through an index of structural patterns." The exhibition is on at 3-Legged Dog Art & Technology Center in New York and features a multi-channel video installation which immerses people in an "endlessly mutating death labyrinth.”

The piece, a collaboration with game designer and writer Porpentine Charity Heartscape, is part of a continuing project, a video game called Aria End. The game is about a vast underground utopia that underwent a catastrophe called The Mess and now lies abandoned. The main character of Aria End heads down to clean it up. 

Pattern Language. GIF courtesy of the artist

The preceding installment of the project, a four-channel video installation called Cave Exits, which takes inspiration from the "dungeon crawl" video game genre, was about her descent into this subterranean dwelling. "In video games there is the concept of an infinite dungeon—an endlessly regenerating death labyrinth," explains Heartscape in reference to Aria End. "There’s an intimate quality to a structure that remakes itself after each horrible demise and invites you to try again. Dungeons are the study of structures as living things. Their diet is your curiosity, and their luring plumage is gold and gems." 

Pattern Language is a product of their R&D into the game, and uses concepts from Christopher Alexander's "Pattern Language" method to construct the self-generating labyrinth, which people experience in the exhibition. In the installation, the experience is structured like a fugue, both musically and psychologically. It goes through five phases before it interludes and then loops back onto itself as a slightly altered version. "One of my goals with the physical installation was to create a space that is both soothing and tense, a narrative strobe spa," notes Burr.

Pattern Language. Image courtesy of the artist

"This work deals with constraints." explains Burr to The Creators Project. "Musically and visually we have a very limited rule-set that manifests the world of this piece. We chose to mirror these impingements in the temporal structure by developing a playback system with a tight phasing algorithm that presents glimpses of life in this subterranean dirtscraper. The five phases oscillate between a heavy somatic experience (through psychoacoustic and stroboscopic gestures) and a diegetic one (telephoto surveillance of life in the arcology)."

Pattern Language. Image courtesy of the artist

Visually the piece is busy with high def pixelated, glitchy black-and-white graphics, an aesthetic born out of the constraints of the system they employed, but one that also acts to disorientate and appease the viewer and engulf them in the architecture of this underground utopia. 

In terms of the end video game, Cave Exits served as an entry point into it, looking at what happened following the breakdown of the utopia. Burr explains that Pattern Language goes back in time to explore the utopian ideals that lead to the catastrophe. "From here," says Burr, "I am going back to the future and stripping the arcology of its humans to design the levels and environments of Aria End."  

Pattern Language. GIF courtesy of the artist

Pattern Language is on now until September 29, 2016 at 3LD Art & Technology Center. Visit Peter Burr's website here to learn more about his work. 


Step Inside a Glitchy Alternate Universe Inspired by Dungeon Crawler Video Games

Video Games Day Is Even Better with Pixel Art

See Peter Burr's Experiment In Live Cinema Based On Tarkovsky's Stalker

27 Sep 11:33

Pi-powered Mansfield Holiday Zoom Movie Camera

by Alex Bate

When John Sichi discovered a Mansfield Holiday Zoom movie camera on Yerdle, he was instantly transported back to a childhood of making home movies with his family.

The camera was fully operational, but sadly the lens was damaged. 

With the cost of parts, film, and development an unreasonable expense, John decided to digitise the camera using a Raspberry Pi Zero and Pi Camera Module.

Pi-powered Mansfield Holiday Zoom Movie Camera

To fit the Pi in place, John was forced to pull out the inner workings; unfortunately, this meant he had to lose the nostalgic whirring noise of the inner springs, which would originally have spun as the movie was recorded.

Using a scrap piece of metal, he was able to create a stop/start button from the existing trigger: hold it down to record, and release to stop.

A USB battery pack provides power to the Pi, while bits of LEGO and Sugru hold it in place. 

Pi-powered Mansfield Holiday Zoom Movie Camera

John decided to mount the Camera Module externally, as he did not want to risk damaging the body of the Mansfield. A further upgrade would aim to use a camera with functional lens, thereby fully incorporating the new tech with the old functionality. 

Code for the camera is available via GitHub, while sample footage from the camera can be found below. As you can see, the build works beautifully, and that retro image quality is incredibly evocative. Great work, John! 

Holiday Pi retrocamera

Uploaded by jsichi on 2016-09-14.


The post Pi-powered Mansfield Holiday Zoom Movie Camera appeared first on Raspberry Pi.

27 Sep 00:00

Why we are weaning our students from electronic noise


Ryan Balot, Clifford Orwin, Globe, Mail, Sept 27, 2016

I wonder whether this is true: "thinking thrives on silence or on dialogue with other human voices, when electronic noise has faded." This is being used as justification for banning electronic devices from the classroom. But I have questions. When I'm doing mental work, I always have some background noise - music, CBC, Ed Radio, a baseball game, whatever. My head is full of distracting noises; silence makes my mind wander. I remember the classroom lecture before computers - every agonizing scrape of a chair, squeak of a door, cough, whisper. It was all I could do to keep from daydreaming and falling asleep. By contrast, some of my best thinking places are noisy environments - pubs, markets, busy streets. So I think it's a fallacy that thinking thrives on silence, and certainly don't support banning electronic devices based on an unproven, and probably false, hypothesis.

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27 Sep 13:38

Same-day delivery now available to Amazon Prime members in Toronto and Vancouver

by Igor Bonifacic

The day Canadian Amazon Prime members have been waiting for has finally arrived.

Jeff Bezos and company announced on Tuesday morning that free same-day delivery is now available to Prime members in Toronto and Vancouver on orders above $25. Amazon says the delivery option is available seven days a week. Orders placed in the morning will arrive later in the day, while those placed during the evening will make their way to customers the next day.

After launching the service in the U.S. in 2005, Amazon brought Prime to Canada in 2013, though it did so without some of the music and movie streaming tie-ins that are available to U.S. members. Prime costs $79 per year in Canada.

“Prime was developed to make shopping on Amazon fast and convenient, and Prime members in Canada can now enjoy fast, unlimited, free Prime delivery seven days a week,” said Alexandre Gagnon, vice-president of Amazon Canada, in a statement issued to MobileSyrup. “We keep making Prime better, and as our operational capabilities grow, we continue to increase product selection and enhance delivery options that customers in Canada enjoy.”

Image courtesy of Flickr user Steve Jurvetson.

27 Sep 13:05

Future Galaxy Note Could Have Speaker Built into its S Pen

by Killian Bell
A future iteration of the Galaxy Note could feature a speaker built into its iconic S Pen stylus. Samsung has patented the idea, which sees a tiny speaker embedded in the S Pen’s tip that could negate the need to have speakers in the phone itself. Continue reading →